CentreVenture inches closer to Public Safety Building redevelopment, will choose design this month

Winnipeg’s downtown development agency is one step closer to replacing the city’s old police headquarters with a mixed-use development.

On Dec. 14, CentreVenture will choose a design for the redevelopment of the Public Safety Building, the six-storey Princess Street structure that served as the headquarters of the Winnipeg Police Service from 1965 until 2016.

The brutalist building is part of an ensemble of downtown modernist structures that also includes the adjacent Civic Centre Parkade — shuttered in 2012 — as well as City Hall and the Centennial Concert Hall.

City council voted in 2016 to declare the city block encompassing the Public Safety Building and the parkade surplus to the city’s needs. The city intends to sell most of the block to a private developer but must reserve the southern portion, south of what used to be Market Avenue, for some form of public use.

That’s because of a caveat placed on the land in 1875, when the family of Winnipeg’s first postmaster donated the site to the city under the condition it serve a public use.

CentreVenture will act as developer

After two years of public consultations, CentreVenture determined that use will be a mixed-use development encompassing a multi-storey affordable-housing building, a ground-floor space for local arts groups, retail spaces for local artisans and a public plaza.

CentreVenture will act as the developer of this parcel, president and CEO Angela Mathieson said Thursday in an interview, pegging the project in the $30-million range.

She said a business plan will be presented to city council in 2019, with the intention of construction starting in 2020.

A proposed redesign by architecture firms Saucier+Perrotte Architectes and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol. (CentreVenture)

The redevelopment of the Public Safety Building is one of three large-scale downtown revitalization projects underway in Winnipeg.

Construction on the second phase of True North Square has started on the former Carlton Inn site north of RBC Convention Centre. Ground testing is underway to prepare for the future Sutton Place hotel and an adjoining residential tower.

The Forks is also preparing to complete deals with private developers to build a series of four-to-six storey buildings on the surface parking lot known as the Railside land.

The project is on hold while the provincial government reviews tax-increment financing, Forks CEO Paul Jordan said in November. The Forks intends to use new property-tax revenue from the development to pay for road improvements and public spaces at the development.

The Forks also must move slowly to ensure any Indigenous artifacts found on the site are dealt with to the satisfaction of of provincial historic-resources officials, vice-president Sara Stasiuk said in an interview.

Downtown Winnipeg is infamous for its underutilized spaces and now there is a plan for the three most high-profile parcels 1:56