Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It would have made a great satellite campus...

While Winnipeg sits around scratching itself, indifferently going through a list of post-secondary institutions and government departments that haven't yet been cajoled downtown by the City or its public downtown conditioning agencies, along comes someone from the former People's State of Saskatchewan with a plan to invest in the Avenue Building.

Condos slated for Portage Ave. - WFP
The six-storey Avenue Building is a microcosm of both Portage Avenue's past prominence and its present stagnation. When it was built in 1910, purely in response to the sky-rocketing demand for commercial space in the vicinity, British investment was pouring into the city. (The Great War obviously halted this stream, while the General Strike ensured it did not return.) Saskatchewan is no Edwardian Britain, but we'll will take what we should get.

And with such a crucial property that stood for years as a vacant eyesore finally poised to be brought to life with private investment, the locals who have toiled in downtown renewal for years would certainly be ecstatic to have a young new player with apparently deep pockets hit the scene with an upscale condo/office conversion:

"I think as long as he doesn't have too many of them (condos), it will work," said Hart Mallin.

"I think that with the executive thing, you've got to be careful with that," offered Bill Thiessen. "That's not a slam dunk anywhere in Winnipeg except maybe Wellington Crescent."

While I hesitate to question the self-proclaimed "urban realtor", this is exactly the type of thing that was said when the first four Waterfront Drive projects were announced (where even if people are rarely seen living there, the units have clearly sold).

Besides, when a seller is most likely to get his half-million dollar asking price for this charming little bungalow in Windsor Park, I think its a safe assumption the spending habits of people in the higher-end housing market are wholly unpredictable.


Blogger mrchristian said...

Great news. Maybe out of town blood is what we need. Winnipegers, as most know, can be an inward looking bunch.

I've always had an interest in the Avenue and have taken lots of photos in and around it. Something about it just draws me and I think you hit it on the head by saying : "The six-storey Avenue Building is a microcosm of both Portage Avenue's past prominence and its present stagnation."

11:44 AM  
Anonymous nauticaman said...

THE urban realtor says Portage is too ghetto for exec class—GTFO Bill! I'd take a 6th floor loft on the main drag over a Windsor Park Kitchen Crafted double wide. But after spending $400k on a condo I'm sure the rest of the block would chip in to hire a construction crew to take out the P&M 'cades one surprise night....

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So boring.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I await the typical crowd to whine about how horrible high end condo's are and how the space should be an artists commune or social housing or some other socialist dream.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, yeah.
What ever in the world must this Saskatchewanian know that the natives don't?
The "investor" is obviously flush in the delusion that Saskatchewan's own recent real estate bubble is sustainable, and that doing condo conversions at the top of Winnipeg's -- DOWNTOWN, yet!!! -- RE cycle is a good idea.
Also consider the MASSIVE supply of units of all kinds in Winnipeg, not matched by household or capital formation, and you have a recipe for collapse that this clown is just in time for.
There are simply not enuff Urbane Urban Executive Professional Types in either relative or absolute numbers to float this fiasco-in-the-making.
And stay tuned for the tax concessions, credits and grants this dreamer will soak up en route to bankruptcy.
Am I being a Negapegger? Sorry. Unless and until the flat out functional fundamentals in Winnipeg are corrected, this sort of investment is simply Pie in the Sky.
Peace out.

5:05 AM  
Anonymous nauticaman said...

Hey anonymous, if you're so prescient as to make sweeping predictions about the direction of the real estate market, where are your millions being invested?

It's naysayers like you that keep this place in the doldrums. Sorry your seasonal-working, EI-collecting ass lacks the means to move into an "executive condo" but get off your hate-the-rich, far-Left soapbox and step down to the economic reality that downtown Winnipeg can be a place where ALL social classes can live.

3:49 PM  

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