At a recent WinnipegREALTORS® forecast breakfast, Ron Hambley, the head of the Winnipeg Construction Association, said he was amazed by the increases in building permit activity in 2012. He commented that well over $2 billion in permit activity shows Winnipeg is a happening city.
An important point to keep in mind for 2013 and beyond, according to Hambley, is that “this is work that will last from 12 to 24 months, at least.”
The 2013 forecast report by Avison Young used as its headline, Winnipeg: Cranes No Longer Idle. The report indicated that more than $2 billion worth of developments are underway across the city. It highlights the major redevelopment of Winnipeg’s downtown to the tune of $600 million and CentrePoint leading the way with a 14-storey hotel, five storey office/retail complex and a 450-stall underground parkade. There is also the recently opened 350,000-square-foot IKEA and other notable retailers also ready to open due to the city’s robust local economy.
Ken Jones, chair of WinnipegREALTORS® Commercial Division, said the following about recent developments and the city outlook for years to come:
“Hotels , hotels, hotels. Every time you turn the corner there seems to be another hotel going up. There is the Alt Hotel going up at CentrePoint right across from the MTS Centre and the Grand Hotel going up at the Airport. The Fairfield by Marriott and Sunstone’s Boutique hotel on Waterfront, just to name a few. Some are getting major facelifts, as well. The Delta is undergoing $11 million in renovations.
“The thing is, I think it’s a great barometer of what’s going on in the city. Think about it. Would you build a hotel in a city that wasn’t a happening place?
“And I don’t really think that anyone has fully appreciated what the impact of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is going to be.
“If you recall what I was saying about the industrial market, you will not be surprised to hear that a brand new 153,000-square-foot distribution centre is being developed by Bentall Kennedy at 200 Discovery Place. The location is along the city’s trucking corridor within the Inksbrook Industrial Park right next to CentrePort. And speaking of Centreport, that is definitely the draw for large industrial users of warehouse and distribution facilities.
“CentrePort comprises 20,000 acres and is fast becoming the hottest draw in the industrial sector and will continue to be for many years.
“We’ve already touched on some of the major retail developments happening, such as IKEA and Target, and obviously the site of the old Bomber stadium is one that everyone is keenly anticipating.
“Mixed-use developments are one of the most exciting development types offering a combination of uses within one site — a trend that we should see more if in the coming years.
“And finally, condos, condos, condos. I was surprised when I started to research how many condominium developments there were. They seem to be popping up all over the city. This gets back to the comment about living downtown and the potential domino effect on the office market: live downtown, work downtown. In any case, having residential developments in the core of the city definitely creates a more vibrant and successful city. It’s exciting to see it happening more and more here.
Large infrastructure projects
“Now, I just want to briefly mention some of the large infrastructure projects that Winnipeg has seen over the past while. It’s exciting to see them all happening and to recognize the impact they will have on our city.
“The Winnipeg Convention Centre expansion is going to put us back on the map for large groups looking to host large events, something we couldn’t do before.
“And what can you say about the James A. Richardson International Airport. It was recently named one of the most iconic airports in the world and also one of the most stylish. I think we would all agree that the first impression provided by this facility does us all extremely proud and can’t help but leave a positive impression on those coming here to do business.
“If even the most conservative estimates prove true, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will have a profound effect on our local economy by bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to Winnipeg each and every year
“And what about those Bombers. As a season ticket holder, I can hardly wait to sit in those new seats.
“And finally, CentrePort. The $212.5-million CentrePort Way is well under construction and will help facilitate all of those truck shipments.
National and global views
“So what do others think about Winnipeg?
“We are definitely on their radar now, and for all the right reasons.
“We saw this during the two Winnipeg Real Estate Forums held here with attendance from prominent players in our industry from all over Canada.
“I was speaking with Ron Margolis of Margolis Capital about this subject. He said that he has lenders from all over Canada now calling him and looking to place funds here in Winnipeg. In fact, during the last Winnipeg Real Estate Forum, he held a reception and of the 46 lenders in attendance, 60 per cent were from out-of-town. They covet our market. The yields here can typically be slightly higher than other major cities. And at the same time, we have a continuing reputation of exhibiting stable real estate income, something that is sought after by pension funds and REITs.
“With our new airport and the CentrePort development, we are well positioned to take advantage of changes in how goods are distributed across the world. We can provide Free Trade Zone benefits and access to tri-modal transportation, acting as a gateway to major markets across North America.
“Through the combined efforts of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and ANIM, we are now going to have a World Trade Centre located here — another great indication that the world is watching, and they like what they see.”