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Residential development proposed for Polo Park area

CF Polo Park. Google Maps

A pair of developers want to see a mixed residential development added in and around shops and businesses in the Polo Park area.

Cadillac Fairview, which owns Polo Park mall, and Towers Realty Group, have submitted separate proposals to the city outlining their plans and requesting amendments to the Airport Vicinity Protection Area, which restricts residential construction near the airport.

Development at the former stadium site and surrounding area stalled after American retailer Target pulled out of Canada in 2015.

Cadillac Fairview’s proposal focuses on the area of Polo Park and the former stadium site and would be similar, although less dense, to a project the company is developing in Richmond, BC, according to a letter of intent filed with council’s property and development committee.

The Richmond project includes 12 towers, 1,900 residential units and a central plaza that connects parking, shopping, and residential.

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Cadillac Fairview’s proposal notes the retail landscape at Polo Park is “close to saturation” and suggests the addition of residential would help “balance the mix of uses, and ultimately result in more employment and further growth potential.”

Cadillac Fairview’s proposal would see residential housing built around around the Polo Park mall and the former stadium site. Submitted by Cadillac Fairview

Cadillac Fairview also notes potential tax revenue from residential development at the site could be used by the city pay to help pay off the costs of building IG Field.

Towers Realty’s proposal is focused on the west side of St James Street, south of Sargent Avenue and north of Portage Avenue and includes what it’s calling a mixed-development.

The company said it has 18 properties its targeting for development.

“We envision an area that has the capacity for residents of Winnipeg employed by the service sector and surrounding businesses to walk to work or utilize the public transit in the area,” reads Towers’ proposal.

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“We envision them being able to work, live and enjoy the entertainment industry in the St. James area.”

‘It’s a complicated place’

St. James Coun. Scott Gillingham hasn’t read the particulars of either proposal, but would like to see more residential development in his ward while still making sure the Winnipeg Airport Authority can expand its operations.

Gillingham proposed the public service begin discussions with the airport authority to allow potential amendments to the airport vicinity bylaw back in 2016 during his first term on city council.

“There’s been no new residential development in St. James really for decades,” Gillingham said.

City planning expert and University of Winnipeg geography professor Jino Distasio sees the move toward mixed use development as a positive, but adds the Polo Park area is tricky to develop in.

“It’s a complicated site as well, being close to the airport, very traffic heavy, lots of retail activity, lots of commercial activity, so it’s a complicated place, but hopefully people see that diversity as being unique,” Distasio said.

Towers Realty Group’s proposal is focused on the west side of St James Street. Submitted by Towers Realty Group

Whether any future developments in the area will be successful is another question, added Distasio.

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“It will all come down to design and, really, the market will set the tone as to whether or not Winnipeggers are ready for it,” he said.

Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry Coun. Sherri Rollins, who sits on the property and development committee, said the two developers’ proposals will be first considered by the property and development committee and then the Executive Policy Committee before going to council for final approval including bylaw amendments.

The property and development committee will consider the companies’ proposals at their Sept. 4 meeting.

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