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This article was published 16/9/2020 (375 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
By next week, signs advertising the sale of a major piece of Osborne Village real estate will be posted north of Confusion Corner, heralding a change in the urban landscape.
More than a half acre of land has changed hands on the west side of Osborne Street between Gertrude and McMillan avenues, with the sale of 197, 207, 209 and 213 Osborne.
The four lots — currently home to Gags Unlimited and formerly occupied by AAA Consignment, Village Laundry and Peg City Yoga — moved into the portfolio of Adam Sharfe and Seekville Inc. late this summer.
While plans have yet to be drawn up for the properties, Sharfe, vice-president of operations for Seekville, said the land has the potential for mixed-use residential development, with commercial units along on the main floor and residential suites above.
Any new build will be a long way out, Sharfe said, noting the earliest development applications could be submitted is in about two years.
However, he has started preliminary discussions with planners and architects, and intends to consult with neighbours and local businesses on the future of the block.
"I do want to follow the proper process, so that the businesses and neighbours in close proximity are aware of it before anything comes out," Sharfe said. "I want to be the one to break the news first to the neighbours."
Previously, Seekville Inc. has been involved in the development of 181 single-family residential lots over three projects in Winnipeg and the surrounding area, including the Scotswood Meadows development in Charleswood.
"Any time a building changes hands, we always hope that somebody is buying it for the right reasons and that they’re going to make an investment into the building," said Brian Timmerman, executive director of the Osborne Village Business Improvement Zone. "It’s heartening to hear that buildings that were up for sale did manage to get sold.
"That’s always a good thing because usually the buyer is motivated, especially at this time with the COVID and all that — people are wondering which way is business going to go, how are things going to turn around and when do we get back to normal — to me that sounds encouraging."
“Any time a building changes hands, we always hope that somebody is buying it for the right reasons and that they’re going to make an investment into the building.” — Brian Timmerman, executive director of the Osborne Village Business Improvement Zone
Roman Panchyshyn owns the property next door at 217 Osborne and has operated his pop culture shop Wild Planet at the south end of the block since 2008. The business owner said he welcomes a change of scenery, but worries ongoing development in the area that lacks character and diminishes the existing culture of Osborne Village will weaken the neighbourhood allure.
"They've had a tough time filling retail up, so you know all the best and good luck," Panchyshyn said. "There’s so many empty spaces, especially during this last COVID period, and especially this block, which is virtually empty now."
While stores such as Wild Planet continue to attract shoppers from outside the Village, Panchyshyn said foot traffic in the area has waned noticeably.
"It’s going to be really interesting to see where this area goes. And in terms of what was — Movie Village, and all these boutiquey stores — there’s just none of that left, it’s just sort of generic culture and we’re sort of the last cool place standing, I feel, besides Out of the Blue and Urban Waves."
Just a block north, work is underway to transform the former site of the Osborne Village Inn into a mixed-use, six-storey residential development with 89 units and two four-storey buildings with 59 units each to the rear.
Across the three buildings, the project by Private Pension Partners will offer about 6,000 square feet of commercial space at street level, plus "live-work" units.
Realtor Jon Blumberg, who brokered the sale of 197 to 213 Osborne St. with partner Tyler Ellis, said the block could be another future "development marquee" site in the city.
"Likely what you’ll end up seeing is some sort of commercial-residential redevelopment. When you look at the neighbourhood, that appears to be what it’s most posed for," Blumberg said, adding he’s noted increased interest from young and entrepreneurial buyers in the area.
"Especially in Osborne, held by landlords of an older age demographic, and we’re starting to see some youthfulness come to the area as well," Blumberg said. "I think that’s really important, especially as it pertains to redevelopment.
"I think that next generation will have a longer-term time horizon, in so far as how that property will unveil and the types of tenancies that they’re looking to attract."
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.