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True North Square will go ahead in downtown Winnipeg, officials say

WATCH: True North Square promotional video

WINNIPEG – An ambitious, $400-million mixed-use development planned for downtown Winnipeg will go ahead, True North Sports and Entertainment and CentreVenture Development Corp. announced Monday afternoon.

“We’ve got some good news,” said Mayor Brian Bowman after hearing the news.

True North will buy the property at 220 Carlton St., which is owned by CentreVenture, and create True North Square, a news release said. True North Square, which will extend to encompass property at 225 Carlton, is envisioned as an outdoor public area surrounded by retail, residential, hotel and office space.

“It’s a major redevelopment project for downtown,” said Angela Mathieson, with CentreVenture, “the biggest development project our downtown has seen in many many decades.”

“The exercise of the option today is a significant advancement of our position regarding the development of True North Square,” Scott Brown, True North’s corporate communications director, said in the news release. “We look forward to working with CentreVenture over the next few months as we finalize our design and development plans with CentreVenture, the City of Winnipeg and our tenant partners.”

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READ MORE: CentreVenture forced to back down on True North development deal

The concept for True North Square came as the city redeveloped and expanded the downtown convention centre. Part of the plans for the convention centre included getting a four-star hotel built nearby. CentreVenture, the City of Winnipeg’s arm’s-length development agency, purchased and demolished the Carlton Inn at 220 Carlton for such a hotel, and reached an agreement with True North to purchase and develop it.

However, the project came to a screeching halt when Mayor Brian Bowman objected to the processes that led to a contract between CentreVenture and True North. True North owner Mark Chipman, who publicly endorsed Bowman’s candidacy in the October election, held a news conference at which he said he couldn’t proceed until trust between the city and his company was re-established.

“These facts have been known by a lot of people for a long long time,” said Chipman on February 4th. “To suggest a deal was done backroom or privately is just plain false.”

An April meeting between Chipman and Bowman seemed to resolve those issues and Chipman expressed optimism development plans would go ahead.

Construction on True North Square will begin in 2017.

READ MORE: $400M True North Square back on track after mayor, Chipman meet