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This article was published 3/9/2021 (299 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A new proposal that would demolish the decades-old hangout known as the Pemby and replace it with a new mixed-used development will move forward.
On Friday, council’s City Centre community committee unanimously supported variance and zoning changes that would clear the way for the project to replace the Pembina Hotel, along with its affectionately nicknamed beverage room. Full council approval of the zoning changes is still required.
"(With) the landscaping and adding in trees, the site will be vastly improved. No offence to the Pemby, but (its) time is done.... That’s not really what we want to be showcasing on our major regional streets, a beer trailer and a hotel that’s a little bit tired," said Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry), whose ward includes the hotel site.
"I think this is a vast improvement."
The proposal would demolish the existing hotel, along with its beverage room, which has been a popular hangout for university students for decades. Its removal would create space for a new 12-storey mixed-use building with 226 apartments, 7,050 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, a pet spa, a "bike room" and more.
The bike room would also link up to a "pathway connection" to the Southwest Transitway active transportation route.
The plans do not include a new bar or beverage room.
The project’s proponents expect the new build would transform the prime location on a prominent traffic route, which currently features a large surface parking lot.
"It’s not very often that we’re replacing asphalt parking lots with extensive green space, so we’re happy that we’re able to do that at this location," said Robin Lee, a principal with Pre-Con Builders.
A large outdoor rooftop garden is expected to be included in the site, along with various outdoor plants.
A project planner said the 1011 Pembina Hwy. site, which is located about 500 metres from the Jubilee rapid transit station, is ideally suited to the apartment development, whose residents could make use of multiple existing services and transportation options.
"(It) is very bike-able, (with) good transit, with decent walkability, making this area ideal for where you want to see this buildup of mixed-use and higher-density developments that will really start supporting surrounding business, the rapid transit, as well as (active transportation)," said Chris Gibson, a planner with Richard and Wintrup.
Developers also plan to include six electric-car charging stations at the new structure, which could be expanded if there is demand for more.
Lee, a lifelong resident of Fort Garry, said he understands the changes could be bittersweet for many Winnipeggers, who have fond memories of meeting pals at the Pemby. He is one of them.
"I have a very heavy heart.... There are many, many old friends of mine who are saying very bad things about me right now. I basically have to entertain them at my house to make up for the fact we are losing our old stomping grounds," he said.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.