By: Shane Gibson
After two years of work the University of Winnipeg is ready to officially unveil its ambitious redesign of the former Greyhound Bus Depot.
A grand opening was to be held at the newly renovated space — now called the AnX — Friday morning, but a proud U of W president and vice-chancellor Lloyd Axworthy gave Metro a tour Thursday.
“Our whole idea is to make the university a very active and dynamic part of the community,” said Axworthy. “It’s designed to make much more of a community around here and the university can act as the base for that.”
The 42,000-square-foot building’s main level houses a brand new Garbonzo’s pub-style restaurant, a Starbucks coffee shop and the university’s new bookstore, which has tripled in size from the previous space allowing for the inclusion of a large selection of books.
“Previously we had a very small bookstore, which could only be limited to textbooks… now not only do we have the books that are needed for courses, but we have trade books, magazines, and other merchandise as well,” said the president, noting the university hopes the new bookstore and restaurants will attract the general public as well as students. “We’re really looking to give people a choice when they come downtown.”
The U of W, along with two private partners, bought the old bus depot and its parking lot six years ago. The investment came as part of the school’s campus development plan, which has already seen the completion of projects like the Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex, the Buhler Centre and the McFeetors Hall student residence.
The university has also partnered with Winnipeg Transit to redevelop the former depot into the new UWinnipeg Balmoral Transit Terminal — a downtown hub for the service’s new rapid transit system.
“We’re going to be having 2,000 people a day coming through here just off the bus system,” said Axworthy. “It’s going to be a very important downtown centre.”