Friday, March 8, 2013

Osborne Village Changes

Confusion Corner Tower at Osborne
It looks like the final approvals are forthcoming from the city on the tower first mentioned back in 2012 for 257 Osborne Street by Confusion Corner. With a few tweaks here and there, the city looks to green light the project. It may the first evidence of density going up near the new rapid transit corridor.

The five storey office tower should be underway soon.

Also getting approval in the next week will be 548 Stradbrook Avenue, site of the boarded up Phi Delta Theta house. Till recently, the city was holding up approvals there for multi-unit housing but a few tweaks and the job is back on track. It will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

The old Papa George's restaurant still remains for sale. After 35 years at 93 Osborne, I think it is good that it is taking some time to figure who would best take over the property. The original location of Papa George's was where Mona Lisa restaurant was on Corydon Avenue. In the 1970s, it was George's...then Papa George's and the 1980s it became Mona Lisa Pizza. For a while there were a few Papa George's locations in the city until owner Nick Contzamanis was left with the iconic Osborne location.

The deal for a new place is complicated because the owner of Papa George's did not own the property. The property is owned by Martin Ringer who also owned the property run by his son at Movie Village as well as the Vi-Anne Restaurant. The Shopper's Drug Mart expansion on those old properties continues.

The demise of Movie Village may have been in the cards but it has not completely disappeared. The store has moved into Music Trader, also a Ringer owned and operated property. Martin Ringer was one of the original investors in the concept of Osborne Village. He did not start as a developer but as owner and operator of Ringer's Pharmacy in Fort Garry.

One other original owner in the Village is Basil Lagopoulos who has just shuttered Bistrot by Basil's. Despite entreaties from his son to hang up his apron and sell the property, he plowed through two years of insurance claims to come back. Over a million was spent on the restaurant. It will likely remain a restaurant but we are seeing this all over the city: Long term restauranteurs with 25 years plus closing in part because of how hard it is to keep on going or have someone take over the business within the family.

Fear not those that worry about Osborne Village, I think you can expect to see restaurants return to Papa George's and Basil's site.

It would be good to see some major initiative on what is an important corner just down the street from the two restaurants. It is the issue of the Number 4 Fire Hall. Now, I know what you're saying...not another freaking fire hall but go with me on this.

The site of the present Number 4 Fire Hall is here:

Number 4 Fire Hall at Osborne and Stradbrook

It is situated by the old but important Osborne Village Inn.

Fire Hall and Osborne Village Inn and beer vendor
Quite a large property if you put them together as one whole piece, right?

Hotel and parking lot and fire hall on the corner of Osborne
The Osborne Village Inn was built in 1962 and is home to The Zoo and Ozzy's.

It is fair to say that the hotel is a cultural touchstone of the area but is not exactly where one might stay for a room. Two years ago, a murder took place that could have been linked to the hotel.

Give the fact that a number of older hotels have closed or slated to close recently such as the Montcalm, Charleswood Motor Inn, Sheraton/York the Hotel and Place Louis should come as no surprise that the future of the Osborne Village Inn should be considered.

If the thinking is that a hotel, vendor and live music place in the Village is good, could the addition of the Number 4 Fire Hall and a complete re-build of the hotel and vendor along with the desired parkade all be part and parcel of a worthy development?

It is interesting to think about. A better quality hotel with restaurants and live music entrances right out to Osborne (suitably sound proofed), a taxi stand and turn in for the hotel, a vendor with drive thru on Wardlaw with parkade connected possibly all the way from Wardlaw to Gertrude would be rather amazing.

I know parking is a dirty word here but look behind Osborne Street on the hotel side and see the scrubby parking now there. It aint pretty but it is used by people working in the area or going to shops and restaurants.

But what to do with Number 4 Fire Hall?

A suggestion:

The old Esso Station at 425 Osborne

The abandoned Esso station at 425 Osborne might be a good bet if still available.

425 Osborne beside Winnipeg Transit Garage
The site is close to the present station but also to some important routes beyond Osborne.

Massive Transit Garage...back is connected to Rapid Transit
The beauty of 425 Osborne is the traffic lights, the private Winnipeg Transit road, the backway entrance to rapid transit and the ability to build a fire hall with you can drive straight through from back to front in the new format of present buildings. No more backing into the fire hall garages.

Okay, am I being pie in the sky here or is this doable? I know no one wants to talk fire halls but giving up that corner lot could be lucrative for the city.

At the moment, we have an old hotel and and old fire hall in the Osborne Village. It would be a shame if the hotel closes and the city was caught flatfooted.

Moving the fire hall could trigger a huge project as well as locating fire service to an area that makes so much sense in a logistical way for the entire city.


One Man Committee said...

The corner of Stradbrook and Osborne should be much more than what it is now... unfortunately it is saddled with a parking lot (city owned?), a strip mall with a big parking lot and a fire hall with a huge patch of pavement that really drain away a lot of that corner's vitality. The strip mall isn't going anywhere, but the city-owned parking lot and fire hall certainly should be.

The fire station site is big enough for a substantial redevelopment. It would be perfect for a multistorey residential building. The sooner that could happen, the better as it would have a significant impact on the area. I think the idea of sending the fire hall to South Osborne to free that space up is great and well worth pursuing.

John Dobbin said...

OMC: I certainly think that the fire hall is a key area to leverage a bigger re-development. I also think that given the traffic in the area, there are sound reasons for the city to abandon this corner.

The pathway of the rapid transit corridor and the private lane for the transit garage gave me the idea of how convenient it would be for an ambulance or fire track to get places.

It would be a shame to not create something substantial. A missed opportunity came after the fire destroyed the 100 year old building that housed four businesses including The Happy Cooker. Initially in 2001, there was talk of a 4 storey building going up. What we got was a 1 storey building set back from the street housing a bank and tanning place.

The chance for density was lost.

cherenkov said...

Great post. Really like the idea of doing something else with the block south of Stradbrook, though I would hate to lose more music venues. I hard time seeing a new hotel having space for a club like The Zoo but you never know.

Marty said...

This random speculation about the future of the hotel is unwarranted, John, and the remark about a "may be" connection to a murder is unfair.

If you have any questions about the hotel you should email me as I am still working with the ownership and am not hard to find.

Anonymous said...

I agree on redoing Stradbrook as suggested. It would actually improve the area and get rid of all the unsavory types that hang around that corner and down the back alleys--those of us that live down there have had to deal with these kind of problems for too long. Putting in something like this would really up the area; currently it's considered the slummy area of Osborne and it really shouldn't be.

Julianne P. said...

As an Osborne village resident for the 20 years,I was also saddened by the loss of buildings in the 1999 fire. The buildings that replaced them do nothing to maintain the architectural integrity of the area. In my travels to the US, I happened upon a popular area of Boston called Davis Square (pls. do Google streetview to see). The footprint of this area is similar to Osborne Village but on a larger scale. I often wish Wpg. developers could take a lesson from the work they've done in Boston. There is a perfect balance of residential to retail development that has made the Square a neighborhood & tourism gem. I think this is also achievable for Osborne Village with planning and forethought.

Anonymous said...

Station 4 is BY FAR THE BEST POSITIONED one in the whole city, at a perfect location. From where it is, crews can respond quickly in every direction of town. SOUTH: Pembina, Corydon, Osborne/Jubilee/Dunkirk-Fermor. NORTH: Osborne, Downtown Broadway, Assiniboine, Downtown-Portage, North End. WEST: West Broadway, West End, North End. EAST: Stradbrook-Mayfair-Main-Forks, Mayfair-Queen Elizabeth-Marion or St. Mary's. The ESSO site is a very poor location. It's bad enough with all the transit traffic. In addition, how will the "new station 4" get to Corydon Avenue? Pembina at Grant? The location where Station 4 is located currently, gives crews substantial flow to get in any direction quickly. I agree with you that yes, there certainly are stations in Winnipeg which could be relocated to better locations but Station 4 is the best positioned station out of all.