Monday, October 26, 2009

Not a good sign

The newly-minted weed lot at 668-74 Main Street has a sign planted in it proclaiming it a "development opportunity" for sale from Centre Venture Development Corp. That this is available to any would-be developer suggests that Sun Wah Supermarket's plan to expand its parking lot at King and Henry Ave. east to Main, is now a non-starter.

One can't help but admire the unbridled optimism of this sign, but something tells me this property is going to sit as a discarded clothing repository for the local population, until it is paved over to store the Chevy HHR's of social workers.

Which, in spite of the sign, would probably suit Centre Venture just fine. After all, the cash-strapped organization is flying an architect to Vancouver on a week-long fact-finding mission to skid row flophouses that have been converted into "transitional" housing, so the same can be done with the Bell Hotel. Earlier in the year, Centre Venture (in what was the most depressing article for anyone holding out for a remotely performing city with a livable centre) joined the chorus of downtown property managers in the "race" for the "ideal tenant"--the government bureaucracy.

Bell Hotel, c.1980

Centre Venture does still quietly go about the business of helping small businesses get off the ground in downtown Winnipeg. Places like Berns & Black hair salon, who conducted extensive renovations of 468 Main did so with help from Centre Venture. They should be commended for projects like this, not only because this is the sort of thing the organization was created for in 1999, but because it helps bring about things badly needed (property improvements, coffee shops, grocery stores, small offices) that conventional financial institutions find too risky.

This is not just a matter of uses that better lend themselves to a more safe, interesting and livable downtown (which at one time was believed to be the whole point of this public effort at downtown revitalization), but of what is more practical use of public funds: an upstart entrepreneur renovating a deteriorated storefront on Main Street and opening cafe is a risky venture that is hard to borrow money for; a public social housing or a provincial government department's office is not. So while Centre Venture can be useful in bringing small private ideas to life, it is just another layer of redundancy in public projects like the Bell Hotel.


Blogger urbandude said...

1 right, that stumbles into thier office, does not correct 5 planned wrongs.

CV is useless.

9:27 PM  

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