Monday, 31 March 2008

Thoughts on Upper Fort Garry Gate

This week Crystal developers pulled out of the 100 Main Street deal leaving the Friends of Upper Fort Garry to take the land.

Upper Fort Garry Gate

I support the gate but wanted to see the condo building built. The largest mixed-use privately tower construction in over a decade was important to the development of downtown.

Upper Fort Garry Gate

Here’s a plan C that won’t see the light of day but if the Premier, Mayor and Friends had their heads in the right place could see a win-win situation for everyone involved (forgive the a,b,c - I’ve been churning out memos all week and can’t get it out of my system).

a. MOVE the gate to the south into Bonnycastle Park. I’m not a fan of moving historic sites as they’re, well, SITES not just bricks and mortar. In this case, though, the gate would be within metres - if not inside - the footprint - of the fort. The gate is respected by getting a much more visible location and the site is the same. (*WIN for heritage site*)

b. Build the 100 Main tower. (*WIN for developer and city coffers*)

c. Bonnycastle is lovely with an amphitheatre, fountains, walking paths, seating areas and is connected to the Forks via the river walk.

The downside of the park is that it has an unused / underused city building (the old City Centre Community Committee office) with an adjoining parking lot and horrible looking little works yard / ‘dump’ next to it that’s been “for sale or or lease” for a long time.

Hmmm….what in the world could potentially fill an existing, but empty, building with parking especially now that it’s got this big old historic gate a few metres away. If only there would be some way to link the two…..

(* WIN Bonnycastle Park for more activity and use of existing amenities, WIN City of Winnipeg for finding a use for an unused / underused building, WIN Friends by getting an interpretive centre (with parking to boot), WIN taxpayers for not building an interpretive centre*)

Upper Fort Garry wall remnants

In summary: The gate gets a much more visible setting in a beautiful park with a decent of amenities already there waiting for it.

The city can lease the building to the Friends for $1 as their contribution to the project so no money comes out of the coffers.

The other levels of government, even if they still wanted to chip in, can do so but with a fraction of what they were being asked for as 80% of the project is complete once the gate has been moved.

The Friends have an interpretive centre that they can take their time and fund raise properly for, rather than this “sky is falling” style that they have implemented. (*WIN - every person, developer, taxpayer, level of government and built structure involved in this whole sorry tale*)

Instead there will be no residential tower is built, the city loses money (and forks over additional money for the centre), and this historic landmark gets a big fat eye through no fault of its own.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. This was one of the saddest developments in a long time.

- Jeffrey Thorsteinson