Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Portage Avenue Part 8...
The Halpern Building
The Avenue Building
The Avenue Building has been vacant for the last ten years. At one time, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet called it home before moving to Graham Avenue.
CentreVenture has made the building a project for rehabilitation for a number of years. The six story building at 265 Portage is located between Smith and Garry streets was built in 1904. It isn't a particularly handsome building but neither was the Big Four Sales building before it was converted into the appealing Crocus Building on Main Street.
So how did this project come together? Well, it required two levels of government and a company with a proven record of turning around a downtown building. Thankfully, the development won't simply try and create more office space. It is keeping the street level retail but the upper floors will become apartments.
As most observers have already indicated, the downtown needs more people who are residents. Chasing after the office market has proven a major obstacle. Many developers were tripping over themselves to make a bid for the 42,000 feet that the Manitoba government was thinking about for Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) department. In the end, the government made no decision.
Downtown is only going to recover one building at a time. One can only hope that the Hofers who are renovating the Avenue, will be able to tackle other buildings along the way. Perhaps that might be the Halpern building next door.