WINNIPEG – One of Winnipeg’s most historic – and most derelict- buildings could finally be getting a badly needed face lift.
The 110 year old James Avenue Pumping Station in the East Exchange is at the centre of a $17 million redevelopment plan.
Downtown Development Agency CentreVenture is spearheading the project along with a pair of local developers.
CentreVenture President and CEO Angela Mathieson says the project would preserve the old pumphouse while adding a new building one either side.
“So as one cohesive unit there will be three buildings on the site,” she says. “One heritage building and two new buildings.
Offices would go inside the old pump house, with a view of the old machinery below. It used to pump water from the Red River to fight fires after being built in 1906 but has been vacant for 30 years.
Several past proposals to fix up the building have failed to get off the ground but Mathieson says she’s confident this one can succeed where others have failed.
“Encouraging that smaller scale type of development, that pedestrian friendly type of activity.”
Mathieson says the city’s heritage planners as well as Heritage Winnipeg are on board with the idea.
Residents Concerned About Parking
Not everyone in the area is completely on board with the redevelopment plan.
Area residents and some business owners spoke in opposition at city hall’s Property Committee meeting today.
Gary Cyr lives nearby and is concerned about a loss of street level parking.
Part of the plan calls for narrowing James Avenue by one lane between Amy Street and Waterfront Drive. It would allow for a wider sidewalk and for construction on the project.
But it would also eliminate parking spots and Cyr says that’s a problem.
“I stand on my second storey balcony and I watch the City of Winnipeg ticketing people like crazy because people are stuck for parking as it is,” he says.
The development plan does call for 50 underground parking stalls, according to Mathieson. The city admits there would be a net loss of roughly 9 street parking spots.
Mathieson says she’s hoping to get another parkade built in the East Exchange and is always working to add parking in the area. She says the developers are willing to hold an open house this summer to speak with people who have concerns.
The Property Committee did sign off on the plan to narrow the street, Tuesday. That still needs to be approved by city council.
Council would also need to approve the entire project before it goes ahead. There’s no firm timeline on construction.