Construction work starts Saturday on the University of Winnipeg ANX.

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This article was published 13/8/2009 (4332 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Construction work starts Saturday on the University of Winnipeg ANX.

Huh? The U of W what?

U of W has been waiting for years to move into the former Greyhound station.

BORIS.MINKEVICH@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

U of W has been waiting for years to move into the former Greyhound station.

"That means annex in Twitter-speak," which a university student would immediately recognize, laughed U of W president Lloyd Axworthy on Thursday.

Want to bet how long people older than university age will continue to call it the bus depot?

U of W has been waiting for years to move next door into what is imminently about to become the former downtown depot. When Greyhound and Grey Goose buses shift gears to the spiffy new airport bus depot this weekend, U of W is poised to start moving into 38,000 square feet to be known officially as The University of Winnipeg ANX.

U of W's Community Renewal Corp. already owns a 25 per cent share of the complex at 491 Portage Ave., which includes the parkade. Some university offices are already in the portion better known as the Rice Financial building.

U of W is redeveloping the space to accommodate a new 6,000-square-foot university and community bookstore, Axworthy said.

With McNally Robinson having moved its downtown store to Polo Park, the downtown has needed a bookstore, Axworthy said. It will replace the campus bookstore, he said: "It's a little cubbyhole they have now, 2,000 square feet."

In addition to meeting the course requirements for students, the bookstore will have expanded trade books, magazines and general merchandise for customers from the downtown and the surrounding neighbourhood, say university officials. The bookstore will also have a new state-of-the-art website for online purchasing.

U of W is also looking for potential developers of outlets such as a student pub, food and beverage service, medical and complementary personal services, and retail, Axworthy said.

Ideally, Axworthy said, he'd like the city to use the area where buses have loaded and unloaded passengers as part of its rapid transit network. "It would add another hub to the downtown," he said.

The main floor renovations will be complete by early 2010, U of W promised Thursday.

The lower concourse level already has an additional 10 classrooms with smart technology, a computer lab, offices, student lounge and meeting rooms ready for student occupancy in September, Axworthy said.

"We've been actively constructing in the downstairs part. They'll be ready for the new school year," he said.

That space, not surprisingly, will be known as The Concourse.

Adding new classrooms will allow students from the English language program to relocate from the Massey Building -- to be occupied by Red River College -- in the Exchange District to the main U of W campus. About 500 students enrol in the ELP annually.

Officials said that renovation and operating costs for the ANX will be covered by rental leases and savings from lease reductions as part of the U of W's efforts to consolidate its facilities and programs on the main campus.

Axworthy said with a chuckle that there will be no overpass or tunnel to the annex -- whoops, ANX. He can cover that street crossing in 20 seconds, so students shouldn't get cold, Axworthy said.

U of W is already developing new space across Portage in the former army surplus store, and has a huge science complex under construction two blocks west on portage, just north of the school's new student residence.

 

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca