In 1970 Portage Avenue was still a going concern commercially. The Bay and Eaton's were still packing them in. There were several 20 storey towers that went up all over downtown bit the most iconic was the over 30 story Richardson Building seen here all lit up in more or less its first year. The Northstar Inn (Radisson) on the right was up at near the same time built by the owner of Famous Players. It contained the city's newest and swanky movie theatres as well as highest parking lot in Winnipeg.
It was still possible to find a gas station downtown. A Gulf station is seem on the south side of Portage Avenue.
The north side of Portage was always a little less glamourous. By 1980 it was in full decline as the city plunged to the hardest economic times since the Depression.
Osborne Village is going through a transition of new services, restaurants and shops. Fitness and cannabis stores have located to the high density area as gift shops and clothing stores have given way to expensive leaves and online retailing. Some are calling it luxury blight.
Still, on any night of the year, there is more street life than anywhere in the city. Fall of 2018 and it is busy.
1950s picture shows a Salisbury House in a Texaco gas station beside a Shea's building. Shea's was Winnipeg's beloved beer company on Colony Street that became Labatt's. It is presently where Great-West Life's newer building resides. Where is this picture's location?
The record store is dead. Long live the record store!
The demise of HMV Canada has been exploited by Sunrise Records Canada. Initially taking over many locations of HMV and adding to their Ontario holdings, the plucky record retailer has carved out a niche for company.
Music buffs and their vinyl records are being supported by artists who also release in this medium. The sound differs from digital and appeals to people who love tangible music that they can touch, feel and hear.
The stores also carry higher margin merchandise of the entertainment industry. The kids might want a digital Scarface file or streaming video but they also want a T-shirt, poster and commemorative chainsaw. Those generate profits along with record, DVD and book sales.
There isn't room for multiple retailers in this market but one company with both a mortar and online presence is finding a way.
HMV Records closed in St. Vital and Sunrise didn't initially grab it. Polo Park and Kildonan Place got stores instead. However, as the company proved itself, Sunrise has decided to open in St. Vital more or less where HMV once was.
There are still major gaps to be filled in many malls as the result of Sears Canada closing but malls would do well to grab niche retailers like Sunrise to fill the rest of the mall.
Wheelhouse Cycle Club is scheduled to open this winter at Seasons of Tuxedo. The building is well under construction right now and signage should be soon. It joins the crowded gym market where Goodlife and Altea have already announced two very large clubs in the south Winnipeg area.
Across North America some specialization in fitness has seen yoga carve out a niche and so it goes with spin class cycling. Wheelhouse is a Saskatchewan company and Winnipeg is its third location.
The Outlet Collection mall is still very much a new mall and building around continues at a brisk pace including a large amount of multi-unit housing. In fact all along Sterling Lyon housing is being built. It will be interesting what the next census reports.
There is no doubt going to be a shake-up in the fitness industry soon. Much investment is taking place in clubs currently operating and many apartments are providing fitness equipment. It is possible demand will keep pace but it is just as likely a price war will emerge. It really depends on how many clubs are built. In fairness, we were undeserved for many years. Now, there are big choices out there to be made.
Expect an announcement for Wheelhouse opening soon.
I have been following Bishop Grandin Crossing moves through city planning but it has been a long, slow process. It goes back nearly five years now on the site of the old Sugar Beet Lands proximate to the north of Bishop Grandin as it connects to the west of Pembina Highway. It is easily seen on the drive on Bishop Grandin between Waverley and Pembina Highway.
The Bus Rapid Transit overpass has been under construction along with the route these past two years. It nears completion even now. The long planning process and master plan for the site is done and now we are getting an idea of who the new residents of this mixed office, retail and housing development will be.
Make no mistake about this. Bishop Grandin Crossing is as massive a development as Seasons of Tuxedo is. It involves an extension of two city streets into the site as well as access to Bishop Grandin. It will also include bike paths, sidewalks and of course, the BRT station. It is huge.
The first confirmed tenant of the site will be Goodlife Fitness with the largest location in Manitoba at 60,000 square feet. To put that into perspective of the other clubs: the bigger Goodlife Fitness buildings in Winnipeg are around 25,000 to 30,000 square feet.
This move by Goodlife has been long in the making but hastened by the announcement of Altea Fitness being built in Bridgwater which will also be 60,000 square feet. Lest anyone think there is not enough people to sustain either gym or will possibly feed of the other gym locations, keep this in mind: the population is going up in the area in the tens of thousands.
Bishop Grandin Crossing will house a great many residential buildings with a few thousand people calling it home. Moreover, this is an invitation for people just across the river in St. Vital to have access to services like Goodlife that have yet been able to find space in the packed suburb.
Is there a limit to all this growth? Sure there is. The area that might be affected is Kapyong Barracks. If the thinking there was retail, it might not be able to find what they are looking for. More on that in another post.
As for Bishop Grandin Crossing, all the pieces are now being put together and having a major national gym like Goodlife locate there is just the beginning.