Downtown Commons Grand Opening
Read the Winnipeg Free Press news story: Unique housing weaves mosaic in core
Apartment complex adds more housing options in downtown Winnipeg
Dignitaries cut the ribbon at 320 Colony Street today, officially opening the unique 14-storey apartment complex that adds more living options in downtown Winnipeg. “The Downtown Commons is a “mixed use” building that provides premium, market and affordable suites for professionals, students, families and individuals with 102, one to three bedroom apartments. The complex graces one of the most iconic corners in downtown Winnipeg, located between the Buhler Centre and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, across from Hudson’s Bay.
The Grand Opening of the $31 million project was attended by Manitoba’s Minister of Families, Scott Fielding; Winnipeg Deputy Mayor Mike Pagtakhan; UWinnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Annette Trimbee; Tracey Code, Senior Markets Manager, Royal Bank; Codi Guenther, Executive Director, New Journey Housing; Kevin Settee, President, University of Winnipeg Students’ Association; and UWinnipeg Community Renewal Corporation (UWCRC) Managing Director, Sherman Kreiner.
UWCRC is the owner and project developer for the Downtown Commons and is providing ongoing property management services. UWCRC has also served as the developer for the adjacent Buhler Centre and the recently completed Axworthy Health and RecPlex. UWCRC is the developer of UWinnipeg’s Leatherdale Hall, the UWSA daycare expansion and the Merchants Corner redevelopment on Selkirk Avenue, which are currently underway.
Construction and mortgage financing for the apartment complex is provided by the Royal Bank and the Royal Bank Insurance Company.
The project receives support through an annual operating subsidy and rent-geared-to- income supplements from Manitoba Housing, which allows close to fifty families to live in the affordable units in the complex. Due to the large number of affordable units, the project is receiving a Rental Housing Construction (RHC) tax credit of $1.2 million.
“This is an exciting day for students and many others who live, learn and work in downtown Winnipeg,” said Fielding. “This building is now part of our community and it represents more than just new housing. It represents our shared commitment to a thriving downtown, filled with people of all ages and backgrounds, who will support economic growth and opportunities here in Winnipeg.”
The project benefits from a loan guarantee by the Province of Manitoba and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
“When it comes to building a country that is inclusive and provides opportunities for everyone to succeed, housing matters. It is a key component of the social infrastructure that supports strong communities, personal health and well-being and a vibrant economy,” said Terry Duguid, MP Winnipeg South and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. “Projects like the Downtown Commons go a long way to improving the quality of life for an incredibly diverse cross section of very deserving Winnipeg residents.”
The project is also supported by the joint City of Winnipeg/Province of Manitoba tax increment finance program (TIF), worth approximately $2.55 million over 15 years.
“This project is a perfect example of how targeted programs, such as TIF, are essential for fostering collaboration between various orders of government, not-for-profits and the private sector and lead to exciting downtown developments,” said Pagtakhan. “It builds on the over 1,400 residential units that have already been built in Winnipeg’s downtown in the last decade. It’s part of the 1,200 condo and rental units that are planned for development over the next few years, adding to the vibrancy of our city’s center.”
Fifteen of the units in the building are dedicated to housing newcomers in partnership with the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations and New Journey Housing.
“Downtown Commons gives that ‘at home’ feeling to families that haven’t had this comfort in years,” said Guenther. “That feeling of place, community, security and the peace of mind of not having to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table.”
Downtown Commons adds much needed affordable rental units for students with a particular focus on students with families. “The Downtown Commons provides an exciting new opportunity for students to have a closer, living connection to their campus,” said Settee. “We applaud this commitment to accessible and sustainable housing for students from all backgrounds.”
The complex features an outdoor terrace including BBQ, children’s play area and lounge space for all residents to enjoy. Indoor amenities include a residents’ lounge, a multipurpose room with a common kitchen, and a meeting room ventilated to accommodate smudging. An environmentally sustainable development, the project is receiving $250,000 in Power Smart grants from Manitoba Hydro. It features an electric car charging station, a ‘Peg City Car Coop electric vehicle and public reader boards detailing real-time energy use.
“The Commons is unique in being a truly mixed-tenancy development, offering high-quality rental housing in the downtown for residents of varying backgrounds and circumstances. It includes professional, student, newcomers, and Indigenous residents and families,” said Kreiner. “The Downtown Commons is a first of its kind in Winnipeg, involving community, government and private sector partners. We’re hopeful that it is a housing model that can and will be replicated.”
With the new complex, UWinnipeg continues to support affordable rental units in Winnipeg’s downtown and West End neighbourhoods. McFeetors Hall: Great-West Life Student Residence also offers 25 family townhouses.
“Downtown Commons is possible because of collaborative partnerships and UWinnipeg is proud to continue strengthening our campus and downtown community through the innovative Community Renewal Corporation,” said Dr. Trimbee. “Just as importantly, we are investing in people. High quality, affordable housing makes education more accessible, particularly for non-traditional students from underrepresented communities such as parents who are juggling family life and studies.”
LM Architectural Group designed the building, and Manshield Construction is the construction manager. Construction began in February 2015 and was completed on schedule for 2016 fall occupancy.
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Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7135, E: email@example.com