The developers behind a massive proposed development at Polo Park say they think the project could help reshape west Winnipeg, as well as the city as a whole.
The proposal, by mall owners Cadillac Fairview and local developer Shindico, is looking at spending upwards of a billion dollars to replace existing parking lots with large, multi-use buildings, pedestrian malls and more.
Shindico president and CEO Sandy Shindleman told 680 CJOB’s Connecting Winnipeg that the project could be a boon for the city’s economy.
“This will sustain Polo Park as a major, major taxpayer in Winnipeg,” Shindleman said Friday.
“We have to be concerned with everyone’s health — the future health of retail and the future health of housing. And this infill site does that.
“It should strengthen the housing stock in the neighbourhood — north, south, east and west. We’re quite excited for the rapid transit that’s planned for down there. People can really get a different experience at Polo Park.”
In response to questions about choosing the Polo Park site rather than developing in the city’s downtown, Shindleman said a massive build like this would help downtown, not hurt it.
“You can’t find 84 acres in downtown Winnipeg,” he said.
“It’s a natural continuation to see the density spill (west) down Portage Avenue to the University of Winnipeg and beyond.”
Before any shovels hit the ground, the proposal will have to be approved by three levels at city hall — with the first hurdle coming on Feb. 9 at the property and development committee meeting.
University of Winnipeg urban studies professor Jino Distasio says while questions remain, it’s exciting to hear about developers with such a bold vision for the city.
“People are willing to come together to really do something quite distinctive,” Distasio told 680 CJOB’s The Start, “which is take a lot of asphalt and parking in a traditional setting and transform it into upwards of 4,000 units.
“That should actually, in the long term, also help with the affordability/housing crisis, as it’s going to shift our housing market.
“We’ll see what the request is from government in terms of contributions beyond some complex infrastructure upgrades, but this is a pretty stunning announcement when you think about the number of times Winnipeg has said, ‘We have a billion-dollar announcement to make,’ by the private sector.”
Distasio said there are concerns particularly around travel impacts — compatibility with traffic going to and from the nearby airport, plus already busy truck traffic along Portage Avenue and Route 90.