Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Thursday, April 7, 2011
The Downtown Condo Surge Part 1
110 James Avenue Qualico Condo Project. Building to rebuilt is center
The first of a number of new condos begins shortly at 110 James Avenue by Qualico. The developer has indicated that they are committed to building just under 300 condo units in the Exchange District.
133 Market Avenue waiting in the wings to be developed next. Building to rebuilt is on the right
A lot of the building booms is attributed to the $20 million in grants being waved at developer. It has triggered 670 condos and 130 apartments to go into development. I have no idea of what the private to public ratio of spending is but it would appear that Qualico alone is prepared to spend $40 to $50 million to put units in the area.
The objective of bringing more people to the downtown area, increasing the density, adding groundfloor retail and seeing the tax base rise might all be achieved with this tax program. The continuation of it for the near term seems a sound policy.
The major consideration now will be to ensure accessibility to the entertainment and cultural sites exclusive to the area. If a strong residential component is to work in the area, it can't be choked off by events at the Concert Hall, Pantages, The Warehouse and MTC all on the same nights making life miserable for all.
Some accommodation has to be made for everyone and that will have to include a parking plan which the city woefully lacks. Cars endlessly circling the block looking for an elusive parking spot and the city trying to discourage this by making one way streets, no turn signs and the like will infuriate visitors and residents alike.
We have to ensure that someone who visits from Brandon, Manitoba to see the museum that their tax dollars paid for is dumbfounded about how to access the place. Smugly telling them to park 10 blocks away and take a city bus doesn't cut it. A local parkade does seem to be the order of the day.
As Winnipeg's condo alley develops, it will be a balance issue about keeping the area vital without having drunken brawls from nightclubs spill out into the streets creating disturbances. With that in mind, it is probably good to ensure zoning issues deal with problems before they happen.
Some exciting things look to be occurring in the Exchange area. After just a hiccup of development in the 1980s, it looks like residential building is happening in earnest.
One wonders that in say 2020, we look back at this time and find ourselves saying "wow" about how much of Winnipeg's commercial warehouse district became a residential and mixed used district and how that look was preserved for posterity.