Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Portage Avenue Part 7....

Mountain Equipment Co-Op's bike racks on Portage Avenue

Back of Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Front of Mountain Equipment Co-op.

4Play Sports Bar inside.

As mentioned in part Portage Part 6, the conversion of a part time nightclub across from the MTS Centre into 4Play Sports Bar is evidence that private businesses along North Portage are starting to capitalize on the many people that the arena attract.

However, building a restaurant or club near the MTS Centre is no guarantee of success. The Rinkside Restaurant & Bar went belly up just as 4Play was getting ready to open. Perhaps the long wait for the Manitoba Hydro building to open was the nail that eventually caused it to go under. The south side Portage location of the Rinkside restaurant seems a good location. It remains to be seen whether someone else will take up the mantle of operating there.

Closer to the MTS Centre, another restaurant Samurai has opened in the Newport building on the south side. We'll see if this particular restaurant and its style is of greater success.

However, back to North Portage...

The 4Play sports bar across the street from the MTS Centre is a good start to change Portage away from full on retail at the street level to entertainment and hospitality. Certainly, there will always be room for an exclusive retailer such as Mountain Equipment Co-op to set up shop but the days of expecting such businesses to do so is long gone.

There has been talk about an entertainment district for a few decades now. Many of the announcements regarding the old movie theater such as the Metropolitan have been merely teases. The Capitol theater is no longer around, the Garrick theater has been converted into facilities and venues in support of its new owner The Marlborough Hotel. The Garrick's conversion looks good but I have not stayed at the Marlborough or used the Garrick Centre. Some of the reviews of the hotel though are enough to give many people pause.

And let's not forget about the Metropolitan theatre. It remains an open question what will happen there.

Still, the idea of an entertainment district is a sound one if the private sector is the main backer. At present, it looks like the Chipman family through its Longboat Development Corporation is in talks to create that district from the properties on North Portage that were formerly the Mitchell-Copp building, the A & B Sound building and the Wild Planet building.

A hotel is one of the things that is being proposed for the site.

At the moment CentreVenture Development Corporation is gathering the properties together to make this happen.

The idea is intriguing and one hopes that is has traction where so many other projects have failed before.

More in Part 8...

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