Monday, May 13, 2013

River Heights Corydon Development

1425 Corydon Avenue
It looks like the empty space left by the Esso gas station and carwash will be filled by a two floor office building in River Heights.

Earlier this month, approval was given for a 9,600 square foot office consisting of a dentist clinic on the first floor and possible medical clinic on the second floor.

This is a fairly consistent end result when gas stations decide to close down. Academy Road transformed in the 1980s and beyond when three gas stations closed near the St. James Bridge.

Despite the fact that Corydon runs straight through River Heights, it has little commercial development until it is past River Heights Junior High. For many years the highlight was Dixon's Pharmacy at 1437 Corydon Avenue long since replaced with the Paper Gallery.

River Heights kids used to trudge in the 1970s to Dixon's and and an ice cream shop that sits more or less where the 7/Eleven is now. The ice cream shop was replaced sometime in the very early 1980s with the convenience store.

Much of the real commercial heart of River Heights has been between the rail line and the Lanark Street. An old Safeway was transformed into a multi-store building with an additional commercial building constructed later.

Across the street from Corydon Village Mall was the little restaurant that grew. In the very early 1980s, there was a Bank Of Montreal, Papa George's and a barber shop. But the real busy place in this collection of merchants was Neiman's Pharmacy.

In 1983, Papa George's was taken over by Mona Lisa Pizza. Subsequently, almost the entire building has been taken over by the restaurant and patio. The recent renovations look fabulous although many people are likely to mourn the loss of the only neon sign on Corydon in River Heights.

A two floor office building in River Heights is not likely to set hearts aflutter but it is good to point out the aging population of the neighbourhood could use dentists and medical clinics just as much as a swishy restaurant.

The re-purposing of buildings in established neighbourhoods is an interesting undertaking. The move to very large gas stations has left open space all over the city of Winnipeg where the small stations have closed. It is an evolving industry of re-building...not the least of which entails cleaning the site first.

It is interesting that the development on Corydon is choosing to put parking in the back of the building. This is a much improved decision than letting parking in the front. However, this decision came at the behest of the developer, not the city.

The proposed development to the street...and what could have been
Some would say don't allow parking at all. I understand the sentiment but unrealistic in car city Winnipeg. That doesn't mean we need to destroy the streetscape when constructing a new building. Front street parking creates large windswept lots that no one wants to walk along.

Building to the street and parking in the back is a good decision which we should see more of. I think it is much more neighbourhood friendly and gives the building far more street appeal and possibly future uses for retail and restaurant use.

It is time that City Hall started to think about all of these old gas stations and start suggesting strongly they develop along these ways.

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