Development on Donald Street

New buildings ‘loosely’ part of city’s SHED plan, says developer

  • A flurry of development is taking place on Donald Street around the MTS Centre, most of it part of the CentrePoint development being constructed across the street. – Dylan Hewlett

  • A flurry of development is taking place on Donald Street around the MTS Centre, most of it part of the CentrePoint development being constructed across the street. – Dylan Hewlett

While it’s virtually impossible to miss the massive CentrePoint construction project currently in the works at the corner of Donald Street and Portage Avenue, Winnipeggers may be unaware just how many other changes are also taking place down the street.

Notably, the former Canada Building at 352 Donald, and the 107-year-old Bell Block at 370 Donald are getting a major revamp.

According to Tom Janzen, development manager for the CentreVenture Development Corporation, the Canada Building is being converted into office space for a provincial government tenant, while the Bell Block will become a 35-unit residential rental building.

While neither of the two developments are officially part of the city’s Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (SHED) plan, they are both “loosely part of the concept,” Janzen said.

“(These developments are) a good sign that the right kind of development is happening in the Exchange (District),” he said.

South of Portage, even more ground has been broken.

The Canada Building is being converted into office space for a provincial government tenant, while the Bell Block will become a 35-unit residential rental building.

Doug McKay, director of commercial development for the Longboat Development Corporation - whose largest current project is CentrePoint - identified what appeared to be regular roadwork along the west curb of Donald alongside the MTS Centre as the initial “test site” for the city’s much-talked-about downtown streetscaping project.

Wider sidewalks and more pedestrian-friendly lighting, meant to encourage an increased sense of after-dark safety, are among the plan’s various aspects.

McKay noted the same treatment is planned for the Donald, Portage and Hargrave sides of the future CentrePoint site, with lesser improvements also slated for the complex’s northern Ellice Avenue boundary.

CentrePoint - which McKay said is set to be completed sometime in 2014 - will eventually include 140 residential units, a 420-stall multi-level parking garage, an ALT Hotel and four floors of office space, interconnected via sky-walk, as well as street level retail.

According to McKay, future retail spaces covering the corner of Portage and Donald have already been filled by a mixture of national and independent restaurant tenants, and a great deal of interest has already been expressed with respect to the remaining street level spots.

“We’re big believers that (CentrePoint) is something that makes sense; that the city’s going to like,” said McKay. “It’ll be a place to go and actually do things.”

Although it’s a long way off right now, McKay also mentioned Longboat’s next project after CentrePoint is complete will likely take place in what is currently a large surface parking lot at the nearby corner of Graham Avenue and Hargave Street.

The project is in the early planning stages, but promises to be of a mixed-use nature.

Sharon Humphrey, an employee at Mountain Equipment Co-op (located at the corner of Portage and Donald) doesn’t mind all the construction going on around her workplace.

Disappointed with Winnipeg’s downtown when she moved from Toronto 11 years ago, Humphrey called the various nearby projects a welcome sight.

“I think it’s great for the area,” she said. “Any development downtown is great, as long as it brings people here.”

Published in Volume 67, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 3, 2012)

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