City looking to up funding for Portage Place redevelopment: Winnipeg mayor

The City of Winnipeg will likely be chipping in more money for the redevelopment of Portage Place, says Mayor Brian Bowman.

Bowman told 680 CJOB Wednesday morning that although the city was initially going to contribute $5 million in funding, it is looking to up that amount to $11.3 million, provided it gets approved by council.

Developer Starlight Investments asked all three levels of government for a total of $60 million to complete the project, which will include community spaces and 24-hour facilities.

Read more: Tax rebates for $400M Portage Place redevelopment not unusual — urban planner

“The purchase of Portage Place by Starlight was for about $69 million. We later learned there’s a request for $60 million in combined support from all three levels of government — $20 million each,” said Bowman.

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“The province has stepped up with more than what was initially requested by the developer with $28.7 million. It’s an important project, and I know the developer applauded that level of support.

“You can expect an amendment to come forward at council tomorrow upping our support to $11.3 million so that the combined provincial and city support meets the $40 million that’s been requested by the developer.”

Should that amendment pass, Bowman said, “all eyes” will be on the federal government, which hasn’t confirmed whether it will pitch in the remaining $20 million.

Bowman said the city’s increased support, however, won’t come without a few demands.

“If we’re going to step up our support, we’re going to look to see, ‘What can the community get?’” the mayor said. “There will be an additional ask as part of this additional support, for housing.

“It’s important, and I think it’s a potentially transformative development for our downtown.”

Read more: Winnipeg committee greenlights $5M for Portage Place redevelopment — $15M less than requested

Toronto-based Starlight plans to add more than 500 rental suites, community spaces, a pedestrian walkway and a downtown grocery store to the beleaguered mall.

When the city initially turned down the $20-million request, offering $5 million instead, Starlight’s Joshua Kaufman said the company was hoping for more, saying the city would receive the most return on investment from the project of all three levels of government.

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“It’s been quite publicly displayed in terms of all the benefits that come from this project and the catalyst for change that we’re going to see that’s going to happen in downtown,” Kaufman told 680 CJOB last week.

“If we’re talking about bringing light and bringing eyes on the street … there’s a cost, but there’s also some social benefits that come from this… and, again, it’s hard to put a price tag on that.”

Glen Hirsh on community consultations for Portage Place
Glen Hirsh on community consultations for Portage Place

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