CentreVenture Development Corporation is accepting proposals for a parcel of land on Waterfront Drive, the final developable property on the downtown Winnipeg roadway which has grown from an idea into a reputable neighbourhood over the past two decades.

CentreVenture Development Corporation is accepting proposals for a parcel of land on Waterfront Drive, the final developable property on the downtown Winnipeg roadway which has grown from an idea into a reputable neighbourhood over the past two decades.

The 10,885 square-foot parcel is located at the intersection of Waterfront Drive and Heaton Avenue, and is currently being marketed to developers through a newly released request-for-proposals.

<p>CENTREVENTURE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION<p>
Hundreds of condominium and apartment units have been built along Waterfront Drive in the last two decades. Restaurants, coffee shops and a boutique hotel have also sprung up. The final developable property on the downtown Winnipeg roadway is for sale.

CENTREVENTURE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Hundreds of condominium and apartment units have been built along Waterfront Drive in the last two decades. Restaurants, coffee shops and a boutique hotel have also sprung up. The final developable property on the downtown Winnipeg roadway is for sale.

Angela Mathieson, the president and CEO of CentreVenture, said the property represented a milestone for the corporation, which operates at an arms-length from the city to market properties which were underutilized. In the early 2000s, she said, that’s exactly what the surplus lands which soon became Waterfront Drive was.

There was very little active business and even less residential opportunity in the area, but in 2000, the city moved forward with plans to develop and expand the area into a proper neighbourhood. "Not a lot was happening," Mathieson said. An initial investment of $9 million came from the three levels of government to develop the drive.

In the years since, many existing buildings, which had fallen into dereliction or had become vacant, have been revitalized. Hundreds of condominium and apartment units have been built. Restaurants, coffee shops and a boutique hotel have sprung up. Hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment have made it happen.

Mathieson said at the beginning, the marketing of the properties was more challenging: it’s harder to buy into something that doesn’t yet exist. But in recent years, the sell hasn’t been as tough, she said. Investors tend to see the potential.

"The assets had always been very clear, they just had been sorely neglected," Mathieson said. "There had to be a lot of imagination then."

The parcel at Waterfront and Heaton will require some imagination as well: the property is currently a vacant treed lot, and its irregular, narrow, wedge shape should inspire some creative solutions.

Any development on Waterfront Drive must meet the city’s expectations and criteria for new development. The parcel is in the multiple-use sector of the Downtown Winnipeg Zoning Bylaw, meaning it can host office, retail, service, restaurant, entertainment, public institutions, multiple family residential and off-street parking facilities. Any development on Waterfront Drive is expected to be between two and eight storeys tall.

Interested parties have until July 28 at 3 p.m., to submit their proposals, which will then be evaluated until Aug. 5. By Aug. 15, the successful proponent will be notified, according to the RFP document. After that, the property, currently owned by the city, will be purchased by the successful proponent. An agreement will be struck that should the developer not proceed with the project, the property will be reacquired by CentreVenture.

Should the property be sold, it will mark the conclusion to what has revealed itself to be a successful experiment in urban development, said Mathierson.

"It will be the end of a 20-year process," she said.

ben.waldman@winnipegfreepress.com

Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman
Reporter

Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.