June 4, 2014 6:33 pm

Housing and retail development could land on Parcel 4 at The Forks

WINNIPEG – A new proposal for Parcel 4 could see the gravel parking lot at The Forks turned into commercial, residential and green space.

The Forks Renewal Corporation plan is barely on the drawing board but planners say a key part of it is connecting The Forks to downtown, including opening up Portage Avenue and Main Street to pedestrians.

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“It’s something we’re thinking about to have this idea of having a pedestrian flow from The Forks down to Portage and Main — makes sense we’d get that started,” said Jim August, president of The Forks North Portage Partnership.

Debate is already under way about whether the city should renew the decades-old deal with developers that closed Portage and Main to foot traffic.

“We need to create that commercial, that retail activity, from The Forks at the grade level at the sidewalk through Portage and Main, straight down here to Portage, to the Exchange District,” said Stefano Grande of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

The city owns Parcel 4 and The Forks owns the southern part of the proposed project land, a total of about five hectares of undeveloped land.

Parcel 4 was nearly sold to a private company two years ago to become a hotel and water park, but that controversial proposal was cancelled.

In the meantime it is being used as parking, which is at a premium. The new plan would see two parking garages added.

The Forks will hold a public meeting this summer where they will reveal design plans and the estimated cost before giving the report to city council by the end of the year for approval.

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