The whole housing project is made possible from a federal loan of around $26 million. With a similar loan for the the 102 suite Downtown Common apartment built in 2016 behind the Buhler Centre, the total amount of money comes to around $51 million. The University of Winnipeg is responsible for paying. Presumably, the varied rent and other supports will pay the loan off.
The new as well as the 2016 apartment are for students, faculty and are designed to for income levels that are low income to high. It is a new concept rather than bunching certain income levels together. Going up an elevator there, no one is aware of whether it is a premium renter or someone who has income assistance. It is an experiment to see whether this lifestyle creates a community interested in better care of their environment. In other words, is it a good place to live for everyone there.
One of the good things about the apartments is that they filled areas used for parking or low density retail. There is little doubt that more housing for University of Winnipeg students has been needed for years.
The name Art District is being adopted for the apartment and although at the onset, it looks like musicians are more the focus, it shouldn't be lost on anyone that next door is the Winnipeg Art Gallery. In 2020, a four storey expansion to the WAG will be complete costing $65 million and adding 40,000 square feet to the existing building. The new wing will house the Inuit Art Centre.
Things are so spread out in Winnipeg that it takes a long time to connect the pieces. The U of W and WAG have been set apart as islands for so long. Now they have reached out and are beside each other now. It is difficult to imagine it not being part of future synergies.
Affordable housing is a huge issue and it is good that is being looked at. It doesn't help to revitalize an area and not have people who can't pay for the overpriced and oversized spaces created. Having a mix of people in a building with good security creates residential safety and price. More street activity from places like Stella's and other shops makes sure people are always around. The old saying there is safety in numbers is not wrong. One of the things that generally makes The Forks better is that there is always activity happening. Harder to misbehave if it is where multiple folks will call you on it and hold you accountable.
It will be interesting to see if the U of W and Winnipeg Art Gallery buildings don't have a corresponding business and residential bump afterward.