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This article was published 30/1/2019 (720 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The future of a formerly iconic property in Osborne Village is beginning to materialize.
Developer Private Pension Partners revealed its conceptual plans for the land currently occupied by the defunct Osborne Village Inn (160 Osborne St.), the lot immediately to the east, where the hotel’s former beer vendor stands, and the parking lot to the southeast along Wardlaw Avenue, at a community open house on Jan. 29.
The company is proposing to raze the site and build a six-storey,mixed-use, multi-family apartment building with about 100 units at 160 Osborne St.; and two four-storey, mixed-use, multi-family complexes with 60 units each at 424 and 425 Wardlaw Ave. All three buildings will have covered and underground parking and about 14,000 square feet of combined commercial space at street level.
Karl Loepp, chief operating officer of Private Pension Partners, said planning for the three lots is in its early stages and the open house was hosted to collect feedback from residents and stakeholders in Osborne Village to determine community wants and needs.
"We know that Osborne Village is a fast growing community in the city. There’s big demand for rental in the community, so our vision is to do a mixed-use facility, 200-plus apartments, and probably around 14,000 square feet of commercial rental space that could accommodate restaurants and all types of different uses for the Village, which I think would be very beneficial," Loepp said.
"We want it to be an important piece of the Village," he added.
In 2015, the Osborne Village Motor Inn was purchased from longtime owners the Green family by Fusion Capital Corp., and the hotel and bars were shuttered in late November. The beer vendor continued operating until the end of March 2017.
During that time, rumours swirled about what type of redevelopment would occur on the site. Plans for micro-apartments, a boutique hotel, chain restaurants, and more were floated without ever materializing. Since closing, the existing building has been gutted and construction fences have been up for over a year.
Loepp said Private Pension Partners had been interested in the property for "quite some time" and are currently working with the existing owners to purchase the property. Private Pension Partners will have to make a formal application to rezone the property through the City of Winnipeg, and once that process is complete, it will close the purchase and finalize the development plan, Loepp said.
"If we can get started on construction in the next 12 months, we’d be delighted," he said.
The lots are currently zoned C2 commercial and the developers will be requesting a residential mixed-use zoning.
Loepp said the residential mixed-use model is the most viable option for the properties and added that condominiums are not in the plans.
"Our company is a long-term investor in multi-family," he said. "We’re not in the business of building and flipping. We like to own and hold for the long term, so that adds value to our investors, value to the community in that we’re long-term landlords in that neighbourhood."
It’s still too early in the process to say what kind of units, rental rates, or architectural design will be applied to the development, Loepp said. Much of that will be informed by market research and community input.
An additional community open house will be held after a date for rezoning is set at community committee.
Justin Paquin, chair of the Osborne Village Business Improvement Zone, said redevelopment of the hotel is welcome, and it’s hard to quantify the impact the vacancy has had on the area.
"There isn’t a single person that lives in the area that thinks this empty space is good for anyone who lives here or any business, in my opinion," Paquin said. "I think it’s an eyesore and because it’s been going on for so many years now, it’s a damper on the space and once there’s some movement in the right direction… it will give everyone a sense of revitalization and pride that the area kind of needs."
The addition of new commercial space in the neighbourhood is also a positive, Paquin said.
"I think it’s a very exciting proposal and I hope that the City can work with the developers so that everyone can have wonderful new buildings in this area," he said.
"I think a little bit of competition with landlords would be a good idea, so that businesses have more options for the area," he added. "It would make it more attractive absolutely, and having another landlord in the area, which can offer different kinds of pricing and newer buildings, will put pressure on existing landlords to ensure that their spaces are competitive and also up to date."
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.