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This article was published 9/7/2019 (475 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Forks CEO Paul Jordan said he believes a renovated Portage Place shopping centre could be a catalyst for the redevelopment of the downtown Hudson's Bay Company building.
Jordan went to city hall Tuesday to urge Mayor Brian Bowman and members of his executive policy committee to endorse the sale of the land underneath Portage Place and the parkade and he said the Bay building will likely be next to be redeveloped.
Jordan cited the development near the Bay — including the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Centre, True North Square and projects by the U of W – as projects that are attracting the attention of developers to what’s happening in the downtown.
"Portage Place is next and really, it can be the hinge that would allow the Bay to suddenly become a valuable piece of property as well as the general area around there," Jordan said.
Toronto development firm Starlight Investments has expressed an interest to buy the mall from its current owner, Vancouver-based Peterson Group, for $22.9 million, and then buy the land the mall is built on and the underground parkade from North Portage Development Corp., for a further $47 million.
The corporation is the public agency established in the early 1980s to redevelop the north side of downtown Portage Avenue and later was also tasked with redevelopment of the downtown CN Rail yards that became The Forks.
The agency is owned by the three levels of government and it would require approval from all three to sell off any part of its holdings.
The Forks has been working with the Peterson Group since 2015 to find a new buyer for the mall.
North Portage Development Corp.'s board has unanimously approved the sale and is recommending to the government shareholders that they do the same.
Mayor Brian Bowman and members of his executive policy committee unanimously voted to endorse the move at EPC's meeting Tuesday and it will be formally considered by council at its July 18 meeting.
Bowman told reporters he’s excited with the prospect of new owners for the mall.
"The fact there is a sizable investor that wants to put in that many dollars is encouraging," he said, but added that even if the three levels of government support the sale the deal won't be finalized until Starlight Investments conducts its own due diligence.
Jordan told reporters he’s convinced that Starlight Investments is the best prospect for the downtown mall.
"If you look at their portfolio and what this fund does, it’s about reinvesting in distressed properties," Jordan said. "We are quite confident they are meaning what they say."
Jordan said most of the mall’s first and third floors are vacant and the situation isn’t going to improve under the current ownership.
Jordan said he believes Starlight will construct two residential towers atop the mall, one at each end, targeting student housing, adding he knows the firm has talked to officials at the University of Winnipeg and Red River College.
"This is what (Starlight) does — provide student housing and then all the amenities that go with it, things like grocery stores and drug stores that could make for a really interesting main floor at Portage Place."
Jordan said the two towers combined could provide accommodations for 400 to 600 people.
Updated on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 6:00 PM CDT: Adds photo
11:12 PM: Fixes typo.
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