Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Heritage Landing on Assiniboine Avenue...if it ever gets done
Five years. This is the fall out from Friends of Upper Fort Garry reacting only when a developer wished to re-develop land that had been in use for decades. A developer wishing to put housing downtown waits and wait and waits.
Meanwhile, land cleared for an interpretative centre for Upper Fort Garry also sits waiting. The old city offices, Petro-Canada and the Grain Exchange Curling Club are gone. A fence was placed around the site and then nothing. A while back the group asked to use the site as a surface parking lot as they were cash poor.
Back in June, the Friends revised their plan and decided to clear the last of the debris from the site and build a wall and landscape the area. Even with $12 million committed, the site is a very long way off from being built to what was promised. And the total cost of $20 million seems to be a target that will only grow the larger the longer it takes to get started.
It has to be particularly disheartening to Crystal Developers who had a plan in place for the site and more than double the money to pay to build it. The $45 million original development costs have grown as a new site was found. It now stands near $80 million.
The city and Manitoba Hydro are very slow to move on preparing the site. It would seem the mayor or council would be concerned by the endless delay but they have hung up the "Gone Fishin" sign up for the summer.
Further delays and the developer will just go and do work in the suburbs instead where there is less hassle.
Frustration abounds as the city tries to encourage residential building in the downtown and all investors see are roadblocks and demands to create heritage sites only when someone expresses an interest in the area.
It is clear the city needs to re-focus their efforts on planning. The constant surprises of groups coming forward with last minute demands for preservation are the result of not having discussion about certain areas of the city about the future.
For example, a discussion needs to be made about the height of buildings in the south Broadway to Assiniboine area. Is the city interested in extending the park from the The Forks all the way to the Legislative building? How many public access routes to the river walkway need to be maintained? Does the city want above ground walkways incorporated into future residential towers?
I am just throwing a few things out there. The general aim for this is to think ahead is to make sure the needs and wants of an area can attract future investment in time, effort and money. This is why I am not adverse to the discussion of the CP Yards. It is better to discuss it now rather than be scrambling later on if it is revealed the yards will indeed move. Some discussions are way off in the future whereas some loom large. The Bay downtown is a good example.
It is sad to see years and years of waiting and runarounds.
It may be too late to get this project going in this year but City Hall needs to get off their duffs since they are the ones who have caused the delay. The city needs large investment and $80 million on residential building goes a long way to that end.