Manitoba Housing Selling 21-Storey Building
WINNIPEG, MB – Manitoba Housing has made the decision to sell a vacant building in downtown Winnipeg, Families Minister Scott Fielding announced today. The province has issued a negotiated request for proposal (NRFP) for a realty firm to market and sell a multi-unit building at 185 Smith St.
“We’ve determined this vacant property is the wrong building for us to invest in to renovate and re-tenant,” said Fielding. “It requires major repairs and does not have the right configuration of units to support a quality social housing program. Due to the $500 million in deferred maintenance costs our government inherited, we want to make smart investments and ensure our limited housing resources are invested strategically to meet Manitobans’ needs, rather than having public assets remain idle.”
Manitoba Housing has owned the 21-storey high-rise building since it was built in 1973. It contains more than 300 bachelor and one-bedroom units. The property has sat vacant since a water main rupture in 2015 relocated all tenants. Building systems have been repaired but given the size of the structure, it would cost more than $20 million for the province to completely renovate to Manitoba Housing specifications.
“We believe our buildings should contain a healthy mix of unit sizes that are conducive to vibrant community living. Our preferred model involves smaller projects integrated into neighbourhoods that reflect a mix of incomes and tenant demographics,” said Steven Spry, chief executive officer of Manitoba Housing. “It is unlikely Manitoba Housing would choose to build a facility like 185 Smith today.”
“Manitoba Housing has determined other groups are better suited to take on this project with a focus on downtown revitalization. This is a prime location and we believe someone could develop it as a mixed office and residential tower or residential space to beautify the street and allow more people to move downtown,” added Fielding.
The minister noted that since the Smith Street building was vacated in 2015 and tenants were relocated to empty units in other properties, Manitoba Housing has added more than 500 new social and affordable housing options to its stock. More than 130 social and affordable housing units are currently under construction, he added.
The sale of the building at 185 Smith St. will allow the Department of Families to focus on shelter affordability programs through Manitoba Housing and other initiatives like Rent Assist, Fielding said, adding the government has invested an additional $36 million in Rent Assist and thousands more low-income Manitobans have signed up for the program.
“This decision is cost-effective and responsible. Proceeds from the sale of this building will allow us to support thousands of Manitobans in the private market with additional housing options,” said the minister.
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