The Element Condo - Sherbrook Street (above is what it will look like, below is what it was)
There was a little grocery store with a house behind it at Sherbrook and Sara. As befitting of what had been happening to the neighbourhood as recently as just a few years ago, it had roll down barriers for the windows. There were a number of rental houses as well heading towards the bridge. Rooming house territory. Absentee landlords. Properties that were slowly running down.
Sherbrook Street has always been a mix of residential, retail and business services. It is not a bad mix. In fact, it is the best kind you can have. The problem is that the residential component was literally falling apart. In the 1990s, prices of homes in the area were stagnant or declined. Actual deflation was taking place.
The streets just east to Sherbrook were battling murder, arson, break and enters and vandalism. It wasn't unusual to walk down Young, Langside or Furby to find boarded up housing and police tape.
Even Sherbrook was marked by massage parlours and pawn shops and it was only a few years back that a business owner of one of the shops was beaten badly.
And still through it all, a few shops and restaurants and businesses held on. It helped that Wolseley tenaciously resisted slipping down the road of no return. People there stubbornly held onto home ownership and lovingly kept their places up. These same people also liked to patronize local restaurants and businesses.
Still, this was not enough during the dismal times and restaurants like Acropolis closed and now are occupied by a social agency.
The building of the a four story Element condo where the old store and houses stood off of Sara and Sherbrook suddenly acts as a game changer. While house prices have upgraded all over the neighbourhood and local home ownership has strengthened, there are still large tracts of property both residential and commercial that require major upgrades or in worst case scenarios, demolition to begin again.
The Sandu Properties development increases the density of the area, raises the tax base as well as the property values of both homes and businesses in the area. There are a few businesses across the street, a few low profile, that will become extremely lucrative now. A neighbourhood garden in an empty lots might be too tempting for further developers, nothwithstanding neighbourhood protests.
However, I have to ask, would a garden plot make sense in the building destroyed by fire a years back in Osborne Village? The answer is no. Sadly, the city did not hold out for a better development for the fire in that end of town and only a one story retail strip was built.
Sherbrook and Maryland are long streets compared to Osborne. Multi-story buildings of residential, office and retail should be encouraged. The Element is the right size for the neighbourhood and despite the fears that had someone spray paint "Grentification" (sic) on the sign out front, I would put it out there that it was far worse to let the houses that stood on the site slip into further decay.
It is important to have a good strategy for affordable housing for Manitoba. To that end, the worst landlord in the city is the Manitoba government. That can be argued for another time. However, at present, there are plenty of lower income option for the area, not a lot of higher income ones.
To be certain there are a lot of things happening on Sherbrook, a little less on Maryland but that is bound to change.
I don't immediately foresee some of the problems that we have seen happen on Corydon. Much of that has resulted from a preponderance of restaurants, patios and licenced establishments. However, the prospect of parking and the like could come up in the not too distant future.
This is a good news story so far and we could stand to see some more.