Monday, March 24, 2014

Factory Outlet Winnipeg - Outlets of Seasons

Outlets of Seasons
It looks like the development across the road from Seasons of Tuxedo will be known as Outlets of Seasons. Forster Projects and Harvard Developments look to open the first part of the new factory outlet mall in summer of 2015.

It is a race to see who gets their factory outlet mall up first. The factory outlets of Tanger indicated they were interested in building in Winnipeg in 2011 and are only now starting to build across Canada. They may be beaten the punch by Outlets of Seasons.

The area across from Seasons of Tuxedo is 117 acres and has been zoned for residential as well as commercial. The retail available for leasing is a shade over 850,000 square feet. Just over 330,000 square feet is set aside for factory outlet stores.

To put that into perspective, the 100 stores of the Albertville Premium factory Outlet mall in Minnesota occupy 400,000 square feet. Best guess is that Winnipeg could be hosting upwards of 80 factory outlet stores in the configured space.

Outlets of Seasons across from IKEA
A typical factory outlet mall might have Nike, J. Crew, Pottery Barn, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste and Kenneth Cole. Some of these stores already exist, some don't in the Winnipeg market.

Factory Outlet in Yellow
The building of this factory outlet does not preclude the building of another but it is the rare city that hosts more than one.

The idea of a hotel and a movie theatre on the site seems unlikely now but there are a few places it still might be possible north or south of the Sterling Lyon.

A few key open spaces available
Some retailers like Target have been stung by not being ready for the Canadian market and have lost a bucket full of cash. Still others have been quite successful and U.S. retailers still look at Canada as an uptapped market.

If Winnipeg can only have one factory outlet mall, you can better believe the race to get started is well under way. Expect a lot of work between now and 2015.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Qdoba Coming to Winnipeg

Brandon was the first place in Canada to get one and now Winnipeg is getting one as well.

Qdoba Mexican Grill will be opening at 1320 Ellice in the Polo Park area in the Canad Centre which houses Winner, Jysk and the Canad Inns Hotel.

Three new tenants will move into the spot next to Winners. Those businesses are: Sally Beauty Supply and Beauty Systems Group and Rogers.

The Denver-based Qdoba restaurants first opened a Canadian location two years ago in Brandon. The local franchise rights holders have been looking for the right location in Winnipeg ever since.

It is another case of Brandon got it first. Qdoba and Five Guys Burgers both got their start in Brandon.

There has been a real increase of Mexican style restaurants going up in Winnipeg. Most people in the city remember the success of Chi Chi's Polo Park next to the Winnipeg Arena in the Jets heyday.

Qdoba serves up San Franciso-style burritos and other Mexican dishes.

This is unlikely the last Qdoba to up nor the only U.S. Mexican restaurant chain to set up in the city. Rumour has been that Chipotle Mexican Grill be here in the next year or two as well.

Could Taco John's be next?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Corydon and Stafford Swiss Chalet/Harvey's Drive Thru

Larger Harvey's/Swiss Chalet Drive Thru Toronto
Missed it when it was mentioned in the Free Press in October. At that time, it was indicated that the only thing that was holding up the development of the old Chicken Delight location at Stafford and Corydon was the wait for an additional franchisee to share the corner

It was well known that Harvey's had won the right to build a drive thru at the corner that had held a Chicken Delight since 1981. In a controversial decision, a drive thru was allowed to continue. It was felt that some attempt had been made to hide the fact to the owners and developers that a drive thru was grandfathered in to the neighbourhood plan.

A majority of city councillors felt this created unfair circumstances and awarded the Harvey's a winning bid for the decaying Chicken Delight property. Some additional zoning improvements were added and the developer was given the go to proceed to construction stage.

Months and months have gone by and aside from a mid fall update that appeared in the Free Press, nothing seemed to be happening.

Well now, according to the CBC, the additional franchisee has come aboard and we should soon see at the corner a Swiss Chalet/Harvey's Drive Thru.

This is not the first time we have had the combo in Winnipeg. Swiss Chalet/Harvey's operated out of the old Winnipeg International Airport for many years. The move to the new terminal left the city with neither restaurant until Swiss Chalet opened on Kenaston and Harvey's opened on Portage Avenue.

Given this city's love of Swiss Chalet as evidenced by the packed parking lot on Kenaston, it is interesting that it took this long to get another one.

Corydon is at that uncomfortable time where residential and commercial development is increasing how busy the area is. There are legitimate concerns about traffic, noise and the like. They should be addressed but not to the point of driving people and business away from the area.

Osborne Village has gone through challenges throughout its development. While some have reacted with disdain for Second Cup, Starbucks and American Apparel coming, the truth is those businesses have helped anchor certain blocks and enticing people to local fare all throughout the Village.

The upset over Safeway and Shopper's expansion was legitimate but overwrought. The Safeway that emerged from the planning process is a lynchpin of success for the Village. Likewise, the Shopper's may have displaced a DVD rental store and restaurant but it also improved the corner's face out to Osborne as well as offer expanded services. And yes, a 24 hour pharmacy is needed in a  city Winnipeg's size.

And what of the Corydon Village?

It looks like development resistance has reached a prickly time.

There may be anger over a Harvey's/Swiss Chalet at the corner of Stafford and Corydon by some but it was a drive thru for 30 years and the neighbourhood didn't fall apart. It is likely the restaurants will be welcomed by many who live in the area.

I think pushing for improvements to the area planning are worthwhile and with luck and care, Corydon can continue to be one of the more desirable areas of the city.

Friday, March 7, 2014

More Blogs Down

The announced ending of Slurpees and Murders and Winnipeg Cat has made for some unhappy faces.

In the last week two other long standing blogs have announced their end. Things That Need to Be Said has announced an end as well as Conceit and Sociopathy. Both have been contributors to the Winnipeg discussion in various ways over the last years.

With two more radio shows left, Internet Pundits, also comes to an end.

Oh what a glorious few years it was of commentary.

Much of the discussion has moved to Twitter but with 140 characters only, it is a short discussion and no person in their right mind will look back 24 hours over their feed from everyone for nuggets of wonderful.

There is something essential about long form commentary. It is there today, tomorrow and barring an electro magnetic pulse, there forever.

I have posts that I have done years ago that consistently get looked at. And years from now, I expect I will read something I wrote and go: Oh yeah, I had forgotten about that!

Some of the blog listings I left up for other blogs have not been updated in more than a year. I will start removing them today. In some cases material was simply deleted and there is nothing there,. In other cases, the pages have been altered to other uses.

I keep hoping for new blogs on Winnipeg. Perhaps as we get close to the civic election in October, some people will have something more to say. Perhaps as people get older and are not sleepless with children, work and other activities, they will re-acquaint themselves with long form writing.

For the moment though, I am sad.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Slurpees and Cats

This past week marked the beginning of big changes in the Winnipeg blogosphere. On February 27, Winnipeg Cat ended. The reasons were two-fold. First, the cat that graciously gave so much passed away and last, the author James Hope Howard of Slurpees and Murder had accepted a job one province over. This will in turn more or less end the Slurpees blog as well as the radio show Internet Pundits on 101 UMFM.

What can we say about Winnipeg Cat? Well, we can say that it consistently poked our funny bone. Maya, the cat picture that stared out at us was a flash photo eyes ablaze disembodied full throated commentary about the days events.

If Winnipeggers woke up to -50 C weather, you can be sure the cat had something to say about it. Many people in the city made the cat part of their day because they needed some humour, some Winnipeg love and some indication of what direction their city was going in.

It is without doubt the blog will be dearly missed.

While Winnipeg Cat was a terse kitty growl on a regular basis, Slurpees and Murder was a long form commentary on everything Winnipeg from Slurpees to well, murder.

Some might ask what came first: The Slurpees blog or the Slurpees column in the beloved Uptown weekly newspaper? In the end, all that matters is what ended first. It was Uptown newspaper and with it the Slurpees weekly newspaper column.

First, let me say I miss Uptown. I am still unconvinced that it could not have continued as part of a larger commitment by the Free Press to content not found elsewhere. I am even more convinced now that the Metro is pumped out daily in Winnipeg.

No matter now, I guess. It is a tough time for newspapers but I always felt there was room for such a publication not to mention any website they could have sustained.

Many who did read Uptown turned to Slurpees to tickle their funny bone or to think on the week's issues.

The demise of Uptown left those in need of local and funny with the only option of seeking it online. And for some time there was a glorious multitude of long form blogs dedicated to Winnipeg or written by Winnipeggers. Some of those blogs are no longer around but Slurpees and Murder became an institution.

For the last few years, Slurpees became multimedia. And by that I mean there was a Twitter account and a radio show on the University of Manitoba's 101 UMFM. The first host of the show Tessa Vanderhart put together a panel of bloggers to discuss the week's issues and what a free for all it was!

It was at this time that I met James and saw the warmth and humour behind the writing. It seemed impossible that there could ever be and end to writing about Winnipeg since there appeared to be a never ending source of material to cover.

It would be interesting to look into why there has been a surge in renewed interest in local matters right across Canada. And by that I mean...there once had been wide indifference, a shrug of the shoulders or outright lack of knowledge of what happens in the city. I have no idea if blogging or social media made a difference but for the first time in a long while people have been talking local issues in a more concerted way and it is having an impact.

Slurpees and Murder was very much a part of that discussion.

In the recent year, James took over hosting duties of Internet Pundits and continued tweeting and blogging. As he has mentioned in his commentary, he had been seeking out work within his professional skill set. He has always been hard working but specialized job training often means matching your job training with the right organization.

James looks to have found that job in Saskatchewan and the move comes soon. I am sure blogging will still be an outlet for a creative mind but hard to write about a city you love on a daily basis when you are driving for hours in boreal forest.

And so with that Winnipeg Cat, Slurpees and Murder and Internet Pundits come to an end. Thanks James for sharing your cat, your thoughts, your voice and your Winnipeg. Manitoba's loss is Saskatchewan's gain and many of us will your contributions to this community terribly.