Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Polo Park North
Shovels were turned on the old Winnipeg Arena site finally. It is sometimes amazing how long projects take and how much they can change from the original plans.
At first, it looked like the site was going to be the location of an Asian food grocery. Then CJOB moved into the old CKY site. Now, groundbreaking is taking place on what will be a $36 million development.
Downtown's loss is Polo Park's gain as Western Financial combines four offices all on one floor of a mixed use building seen at the top of this page.
I think the big surprise for the 210,000 foot structure is that it includes an underground parking lot for 200 cars. Kind of a shocker in open surface parking crazy Winnipeg. We saw another underground parking lot on Sterling Lyon for the the new medical center which was a bit of a surprise too.
It used to be for a while that underground parking was a primary consideration for a development. Might be making a bit of a comeback.
The three floors of the new complex are supposed to retail on the first, Western Financial on the second and other offices on the third. It seems inevitable that Western Financial is eying the third floor to add to their present 370 employees. This is a good thing and one of the few good things about losing this company from the downtown.
I suspect that the new development will be successful but unimaginative. If lucky, we might get some retail on the first floor that Winnipegger would like to see.
The issues of traffic will continue to be a problem. Empress was never meant to handle the traffic it does.
The stadium redevelopment is likely to bring all things to a head although it is unlikely that a developer will front the money like IKEA has.
Much of the announcement is seen as being a loss for the downtown and within that whole prism of downtown is not safe, etc. To be sure, there is much to be done for the downtown but it won't be just office buildings that do it. Nor will it be just retail. The area needs people.
It would have been great if Western Financial was downtown. However, what will be more important is if more people are brought downtown to live and that they feel safe and secure when they do so.