What’s Up Downtown?

 
 

CentreVenture unveils plan for sports and entertainment district
By: Murray McNeill
Winnipeg Free Press – March 8, 2011

CentreVenture Development Corp. lifted a curtain edge on its plans for downtown Winnipeg, disclosing for the first time Monday the scale and cost of several new developments planned for the emerging entertainment district around the MTS Centre.

The downtown development agency’s vision for the revitalization of the area now includes an outdoor public square/gathering place near the MTS Centre, likely south of Portage Avenue.

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS MTS Centre downtown Winnipeg aerial.

MIKE.APORIUS@FREEPRESS.MB.CA – shot of the A & B Sound Building on the northwest corner of Porage and Donald and the Mitchell-Copp Building next door to it (immediately west of it). – for Murry McNeill story CentreVenture has acquired the A & B Sound building and it and the North Portage Development Corporation are now negotiating with a development group that is interested in redeveloping the two properties together as one development. It could involve keeping the existing buildings and refurbishing them, or tearing them down and building new, or a combination of those two options.

Winnipeg- The Metropolitan Theatre The Met. CentreVenture Centre Venture Submitted rendering 2011.
It also includes one, and possibly two, new parkade/commercial developments within the proposed Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (SHED) — one north and one south of Portage — and cost estimates for two other much-talked about projects.

One is the redevelopment of the former A&B Sound/Mitchell Copp properties on Portage into a mixed-use commercial development that could include a boutique hotel and office or retail space. The agency estimates the cost of that at $40 million.

The other is the redevelopment of the former Metropolitan Theatre on Donald Street, which Canad Inns hopes to transform into a rock ‘n’ roll-themed “destination centre,” for $16 million.
CentreVenture president and CEO Ross McGowan said Monday the agency hopes to complete plans for the A&B Sound/Mitchell Copp project within four to six weeks.

But the Metropolitan Theatre project remains stuck in neutral, with CentreVenture and the owner of that property — Winnipeg-based Canad Inns hotel chain — waiting to see if the provincial and federal governments will help fund the project.

McGowan said it is envisioned that CanadInns would cover 75 to 80 per cent of the cost, and the three levels of government would cover the rest.
Details about those and a variety of other downtown initiatives are contained in CentreVenture’s 2011-2013 business plan, which goes before the city’s executive policy committee on Wednesday and then to city council on March 22.

The plan, requiring city approval, includes a request to boost the agency’s 2011 operating budget to $1.1 million from $848,012 in 2010.

Just under 80 per cent of the money would be eaten up by administration costs, which are expected to climb to $803,379 from $649,919 last year.

McGowan said some of the extra money would be used to hire another development officer to work on some of the agency’s initiatives.

The business plan is shy on details about the public square proposal, other than the projected cost of about four million dollars.

McGowan said other details, such as the size, location, and how much would be enclosed versus outdoor space, will be spelled out in the master development plan for the SHED. And that should be ready within the next two to three months.

McGowan said it will likely be another four to six weeks before CentreVenture completes plans for the redevelopment of the A&B Sound/Mitchell Copp site. He said negotiations are ongoing with Longboat Development Corp. and “it’s moving in the right direction.”

It was reported last summer that Longboat, owned by Winnipeg’s Chipman family, wants to build a mixed-use commercial development on the two properties that could include a boutique hotel and office or retail space.

The Longboat development is one of two new projects planned for the block between Portage and Ellice avenues and Donald and Hargrave streets. The other is a $15-million parkade/commercial complex that would be built on several properties CentreVenture recently purchased on Hargrave.

McGowan said CentreVenture is talking to a private developer about that project, as well. It hopes to have a deal nailed down within the next month and a half.

The other parkade/commercial development on CentreVenture’s wish list would be on a surface parking lot located west of Cityplace Shopping Centre. The shopping centre, the Carlton Street parking lot, and another surface lot south of St. Mary Avenue between Hargrave and Donald are owned by Manitoba Public Insurance.

MPI spokesman Brian Smiley said Monday the Crown corporation has been approached by a number of parties interested in redeveloping the two lots. It plans to issue a request for expressions of interest within the next month.

McGowan said CentreVenture would also like to see a mixed-use development on the Carlton Street lot that includes a hotel, an exhibition hall, some office space, and a 1,000-stall parkade.
murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Other plans for downtown
HERE are two more projects or initiatives included in CentreVenture Development Corp.’s three-year business plan:

Retail development: The agency wants to see a new manager hired within the next year to spearhead efforts to attract new retailers to the downtown. The new position would be part of a Portage Avenue mall management plan, and would be a joint undertaking by CentreVenture and the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone. The BIZ group’s executive director, Stefano Grande, said the manager’s role would be to help recruit new retailers to fill vacancies in the downtown, and to work closely with the property owners “to make sure everybody buys into the vision” for the types of retailers they want to attract to different areas within the downtown, including the proposed Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District.

University Expansion: CentreVenture wants to see the downtown skywalk system extended west to connect the University of Winnipeg campus with Portage Place Shopping Centre.
“This single action would… potentially add 16,000 people in support of retail, entertainment and residential development,” the plan states. “With the connection in place, a portion of Portage Place (west of Kennedy Street) could be converted to classroom or lab space… providing the mall management with the opportunity to focus retail uses east of Kennedy Street.”

It could also encourage the mixed-use development of the two roof-top “pads” at each end of the mall, it says.