The province has created a trust fund to help preserve the iconic Hudson’s Bay building in downtown Winnipeg.
Manitoba finance minister Scott Fielding announced the fund during the 2021-22 Manitoba budget presentation Wednesday, adding it’s being created to help a future developer preserve heritage details of the building.
“Mayor [Brian] Bowman, of course, has set up a committee to look at ways to bring the Hudson’s Bay back to life,” said Fielding.
“And we want to start the ball rolling with a $25-million investment trust to renovate and make sure that part of our city is supported. We encourage Mayor Bowman to match that commitment.”
The HBC building had already been in steady decline over the past few decades before being abruptly shut down in November after retail restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic finally killed it.
The Hudson’s Bay Company first opened the downtown Winnipeg store to shoppers in 1926 and the building received a heritage designation from the city in 2019.
An appraisal of the building, done last year by Cushman & Wakefield for the Hudson’s Bay Company, valued the nearly 100-year-old building at $0 if it were to be leased back to the company.
Cushman & Wakefield found with a little more than $91 million in upgrades, the building’s value would increase to $8 million if leased to a single tenant.
The company’s decision to shutter the store left many wondering what could occupy the iconic six-floor department store, but so far, no plans have been announced.
However, Downtown BIZ executive director Kate Fenske told CJOB Wednesday that the fund was a pleasant surprise.
“It’s really great news,” she said. “It really helps potential developers to know what’s actually on the table that can help make this redevelopment happen.”
The building is a key heritage asset downtown, said Fenske, but to redevelop it is a complicated problem that needs creative solutions.
“There’s no shortage of interesting ideas out there,” she said.
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