Friday, March 27, 2009

Post Office to become Cop Shop?

In a Free Press article, it was revealed that the Winnipeg Police are in formal talks to take over the Canada Post building on Graham.

The Public Safety Building, a Modernist design built in 1965 as part of the campus complex of the city that included the parkade and City Hall is literally falling apart. The price to renovate has escalated to the point that the city has decided it may be cheaper to buy a new facility than go through the hassle and inconvenience of finding temporary quarters for officers.

The Post Office was built in 1958 but has come available due to the fact the sorting plant and many other functions are being transferred to the airport and another downtown location in the year coming.

At the onset, it seems this decision is both a fiscally correct one and offers other intriguing possibilities for bringing some other police functions under one roof. The present post office covers a full city block and while there is some sense in moving its new location, it leaves a big hole in the downtown. The police headquarters could be the tonic.

So the big question is the Public Safety Building. Can it be saved? My view is that it might not be possible. The costs of fixing the problems might far too much compared to tearing it down.

And the question is: Who would want the building? There was Red River College musings but I can't imagine it would easy without someone footing the bill for repairs.

I've always found the building to be very modern and a little intimidating. Don't know how I'll feel about to being torn down but it is unacceptable to repair it for tens of million of dollars nor can it be left standing with pieces falling off of it.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Plan for Nunavut-Manitoba road

CBC is reporting that a plan to build all weather road from Manitoba to Nunavut is almost complete.

The road would run from Gillam through to Churchill and then up to the Nunavut communities of Arviat, Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet.

The construction would go a long way to developing the north, affirming our sovereignty and employing local people in the region where construction is taking place.

The question is whether the various governments will greenlight this project.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Random Notes

As noted in Rise and Sprawl, Apple is opening a store in Polo Park in October.

Curious to see what is moving out.

Sephora moved into Tommy Hilfger's location since they have a big store already on Kenaston.

This will help Polo Park hold onto its position as a destination mall.

Too bad their food court is still the pits.


The election in River Heights is today. I think that John Orlikow would be the better councillor and last check, I heard he was elected. My feeling is Currier would have been too much in the vein of Katz who goes by the seat of his pants and doesn't really have a plan.

As far as trustee goes, there are a few there that might have been interesting. I don't know who would be the best. I think that is why former trustee Rita Hildahl was elected again. Name recognition and experience helped.


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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Roblin Boulevard Part 4

Between Lynbrook Drive and Elmhurst Road are two auto repair stores. On the south side is the large George Rempel Auto Centre and almost directly opposite is smaller Dale and Ron's Roblin Auto Service. At one time, both stations may have had gas pumps but no longer.

Both businesses are quite busy with cars from George Rempel sometimes stretching down Lynbrook Drive.

At one time, Papas Restaurant had the fine dining niche to themselves on Roblin but they now have competition from Asahi down the street. Papas is located right up Elmhurst with parking in a fair sized lot behind it.

In between George Rempel and Papas is a series of home decorating shops. Vi's Interiors is one of the businesses. Braun Carpet is the other.

Whereas, the south side of Roblin is bounded by Lynbrook and Elmhurst, the north side is bounded by Royalgate Road and Hendon Avenue. The Charleswood Technical Centre is the on the western corner at Royalgate Road.

Dale and Ron Auto Service follows as you move west. A strip mall or sort start after the service station. After renovations in 2008, Charleswood Rental was replaced by a pet food company called Paws and Go. Immediately beside it is Globosapiens Bookstore Cafe‎ which was Books and Crannies until 2009.

Alongside the bookstore is FJO, a supplier of autoparts.

Continuing west and you find Ceramic Plus Dental Lab.

Palmer and Badger Accountants occupy the space next door.

West of the accountant's office is Robert Lee Martial Arts school is located. One of the pictures above is from their website.

The last place on the block before Hendon is the Charleswood Eye Center. It is both a retailer of glasses and an optician shop. I must say though that my wife went to get her eyes tested there and when she didn't get her glasses there because her health plan only covered glasses from Sears, the optician got a little huffy.

The businesses along this section of street are part of the old Charleswood with each offering unique services.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ikea Part 2

The road construction plans were revealed last week by the city of Winnipeg.

The road plan indicates that both Kenaston and Sterling Lyon Parkway will be expanded to nine lanes in each direction. The cost will be around $22 million and the $400 million project will take it around $6 million in taxes.

The full report is here including the lay-out of the retail outlets.

The Free Press reported that public hearing would reveal this:

On March 11, the city will hold an open house about the IKEA development, which will see the Swedish-founded furniture giant serve as the 350,000-square-foot anchor tenant for a development that will also include a separate 200,000-square-foot big-box store, two stores in the 140,000 to 200,000- square-foot range, numerous smaller stores, a 500-unit condo development, a 100-room hotel, a 16-screen movie theatre and a 150,000-square-foot office park.

Fairweather, the developer of the IKEA property has said that they will pay $26.5 million to expand roads at Kenaston, Sterling Lyon and Shaftesbury. In the end, after the city pay the developer back, they will only have paid $4.5 million. That's a lot of road but then we are talking about and a lot development.

It can't be seen in a vacuum. Waverley West and the Kapyong Barracks along with everything else that is connected to Kenaston has to be looked at in terms of traffic, livability and how it affects surrounding areas.

I personally think Ikea will be a good thing for the city. Much like how Old Navy and Sephora are desination stores, IKEA is the premiere destination retailer. People will come from all over the province, northwest Ontario all the way to Thunder Bay, and from eastern Saskatchewan. It is hard to say if it will attract people from North Dakota but it might for those who think two hours to come to IKEA is better than five or more to Minneapolis.

There will be Manitobans who have been making special trips to Edmonton and Minneapolis who will now stay in Winnipeg to shop.

All of this is good for jobs, taxes and to attract tourists.

On the negative side is the fact that Kenaston (Route 90) is ill equipped to handle the traffic that is booming up and down its length. In some ways it is becoming as important as Portage Avenue. It connects several important destinations in Winnipeg. The Richardson International Airport, Polo Park, Kenaston at McGillivray and Waverley West all depend on this road. It is far too narrow to handle traffic now.

The traffic signal timers that Sam Katz trumpeted more than a year ago for Kenaston don't work as we learned in December when traffic was backed up for as long as an hour or more heading out at the end of the day.

It is not enough to study just what is happened from Academy Road to McGillivray. The entire blueprint of Route 90 needs to be looked at how it will affect the task of simply going to the airport or home at the end of the day.

I support Ikea and at the onset don't have a major problem with the location. I prefer it to the possibility of an industrial park. The city does have to get its ducks in a row though.

Not everyone will be happy. Some along Kenaston will not be happy for sure but the writing has been on the wall for houses alongside the road for some time. The Not in My Backyard syndrome is strong all over the city. Some others are against the development in principle. They seem upset by the whole idea of malls and the like and advocate for the smaller local retailer as part of the community. I have sympathy for that thinking but it only goes so far. The nostalgia for tight knit communities runs smack dab into the reality of life now which is that we are mobile, work unusual hours, have a variety of interests and are looking for selection that reflects our personal tastes and style.

In other words, something like Ikea is the equivalent of the big box department stores of the past except that they are in suburbs rather than downtown.

Ikea is where the people much in the same way Eaton's was. Modern life.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Corydon Avenue Part 1

Corydon Avenue has become a remarkably vital street for retail and for restaurants.

As you move westward through River Heights, the commercial aspects are broken up by large swaths of residential homes. Between Lanark Street and Renfrew Street, there are about 25 businesses, mostly located in the old Safeway store on the south part of Corydon in a 40,000 square foot building called the Corydon Village Mall.

The Free Press reports that longtime retailer Diamond Gallery has decided to build a new building at 1735 Corydon where Anglican Christ Church stood. The old wooden structure has given way to a facility that will have parking in front and a two story retail complex at the back of the lot.

The new building will be 11,000 square feet and house both the Diamond Gallery and other retailers. Presently, the Diamond Gallery is across the street so this move will double their present space.

Across the street and closer to Renfrew, the old strip mall that house's a Mac's was renovated. Mac's stayed and a Quizno's moved in at the other end of the mall.

This whole section of Corydon is probably best known for the restaurant Mona Lisa. Many don't don't know that this was Papa George's original location was. Prior to Papa George's, it was Georgie's.

Mona Lisa expanded into the barber shop next door and also instigated a specialty food store on the other side of the restaurant. A Royal Bank was on the corner of the Mona Lisa block and was later a comic book store. It now houses Luxe Label, a fashionable clothing store.

All in all, things are happening in this area of Corydon.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

MPI's Purchase of cityplace

Photo of cityplace (formerly Eaton Place) by buflyer200. North of Cityplace is the MTS Centre.

There has been a lot of noise in regards to the purchase of Cityplace by Manitoba Public Insurance (Autopac).

The building where MPI has leased space for 28 years was owned by another Winnipeg company Huntington which a Arni Thorsteinson entity. As noted from the picture above, the building is nine stories tall and connected to the MTS Centre to the north. There is also an indoor parkade with 1250 spaces.

Conservatives are up in arms about the purchase. The problem is that MPI is mandated to invest money to help keep premiums down. It is allowed to own property under that mandate. Up to this point, it hasn't owned any property and even after this purchase, it will only account for 2.5% of its portfolio.

As some bloggers have pointed out, it is not unusual for pension funds or Crowns to hold investments.

There are a certain amount of risks involved in real estate but that certainly has to be mitigated by the fact the MPI rents 80% of the space already.

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