UWinnipeg assists redevelopment of the Merchants Hotel on Selkirk Avenue

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Improved Opportunities for Education, More Affordable Housing for the North End

photo: Rob Neufeld, North End Community Renewal Corporation; community activist Michael Champagne; Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, Minister Kevin Chief; Premier Greg Selinger; community leader Kathy Mallet

hotel1The Manitoba government is investing $11.1 million to support the redevelopment of the Merchants Hotel into a mixed-use education and housing community, and continue the revitalization of Winnipeg’s North End neighbourhood, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.

“Our government believes that in uncertain economic times, we need to invest in infrastructure and people, through training and education, to grow our economy,” said Premier Selinger.  “By redeveloping an old hotel into to an innovative educational partnership supported by on-site affordable housing, students in the north end will have a new place to learn and see that a university education can be part of their future.”

Photo: The old Merchants Hotel on Selkirk Avenue

Funding includes $9.1 million for development of 30 new affordable and rent-geared-to-income homes for students attending education programs in the north end and their families, and a $2-million repayable loan to support the construction of education space that will house the Community Educational Development Association’s Pathways to Education high school completion program and the University of Winnipeg’s Urban and Inner-City Studies program.

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Renderings: A new community-based vision for Merchants Corner with affordable housing and education on-site

“Working with a broad range of community partners, UWinnipeg’s Community Renewal Corporation is proving that effective neighbourhood development can be a grassroots enterprise,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, president and vice-chancellor, UWinnipeg.  “We are also honoured that our thriving Urban and Inner-City Studies program is part of a rejuvenation that is providing lifelong learning opportunities within the historic North End.”

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Merchants Corner Inc., a community-based non-profit that has led the redevelopment, will own and manage the educational space and has also committed to fundraising an additional $1.7 million.  The plans include construction of new, affordable housing on a parking lot on the property, demolition of the restaurant attached to the former Merchants Hotel, and redevelopment and expansion of the old hotel site.  Once completed, the redeveloped hotel building will include educational space and affordable housing.

“Today is the start of a new chapter in the north end,” said Michael Champagne, vice-president, North End Community Renewal Corporation, on behalf of Merchants Corner Inc.  “By bringing together housing, high school and university education in one building, we’re helping to revitalize our community in a way that builds a future for our young people.”

Redevelopment of Merchants Corner was led by a community-based steering group that included broad stakeholder and resident input.  The initiative was guided by the principles of community economic development and respect for Aboriginal culture.

The province recently reached its five-year goal to provide funding commitments to build 1,500 new affordable housing units and establish 1,500 social housing units throughout the province, the premier said.  The new units in the Merchants Corner project are the first under the Government of Manitoba’s new commitment to build an additional 1,000 new social and affordable housing units over three years.  These investments complement Budget 2014, a plan to create good jobs, grow the economy and protect front-line services for families by focusing on what matters most to Manitoba families, Premier Selinger said.

More information on Manitoba Housing and Community Development’s new three-year plan, part of the long-term strategy Strong Communities – An Action Plan is available at www.gov.mb.ca/housing/.

MEDIA CONTACT

Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E: d.poulin@uwinnipeg.ca

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