Downtown surface parking lots to become $30M international food research centre

The Richardson Innovation Centre, a $30-million, four-storey, 5,800-square-metre building, will rise on Lombard Avenue, right next to the Nutty Club building and near Shaw Park.

Richardson Innovation Centre to be built next to Nutty Club near Shaw Park

The new Richardson Innovation Centre will be built in downtown Winnipeg. (Number Ten Architectural Group/Richardson International)

A couple of old downtown surface parking lots are set to become a new food research and development facility.

Richardson International announced the Richardson Innovation Centre, a $30-million, four-storey, 62,000-square-foot building that will rise on Lombard Avenue, right next to the Nutty Club building and near Shaw Park.

The food research and development facility will bring in scientists from across Richardson-owned businesses to help focus development of the company's oat milling, canola products and grain processing, said Richardson International president Curt Vossen.

Construction will begin next week, Vossen said.

"Permits are issued for the foundation and we will begin piling for next week," he said.

The building is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2020.

The new building will house a pilot plant, test kitchens and bakery for new ingredients for a range of food products, said Chuck Cohen, vice-president of Richardson International who is in charge of the project.

The Richardson Innovation Centre will replace two surface parking lots downtown. (Number Ten Architectural Group/Richardson International)

The first two levels will be wrapped in Tyndall Stone and will feature a glass atrium that will allow sunlight to penetrate the building, said architect Brent Bellamy of Number Ten Architectural Group, which designed the centre.

"Even though we're this close to Portage and Main, there has never been a real building on that site," said Bellamy. 

"I don't want anyone to chain themselves to it; it's not a heritage parking lot," he joked. "It'll be much better with a building."
Inside the food processing facility at the University of Manitoba, where scientists continue to work on ground-breaking research. 2:14

The design includes a small green space, a second-floor roof terrace and planters and seedlings extending down Lombard Avenue. 

The Richardson family made building the new facility in downtown Winnipeg "a high priority," said Vossen.

The new centre fits with his company's investment in the True North Square development as part of the family's commitment to Winnipeg and the city centre, said Hartley Richardson, chair of James Richardson and Sons.

The project has no government support, said Vossen, who called it "internal to Richardson's strategy," but the company plans to partner with local food science programs and other food science centres, such as the Food Innovation Centre in Portage la Prairie.

More than 100 staff are expected to work in the building initially, and it has capacity for twice that, said Vossen.

With files from Sean Kavanagh