The demolition of Winnipeg's Public Safety Building and attached civic centre parkade is being recommended in a city-commissioned report that goes to a committee next week.

City officials paid $275,000 for the report, which studied available options for the 51-year-old structures adjacent to City Hall.

One of the options city officials considered was spending millions to refurbish the PSB to house a variety of other city departments once the police service abandons it for its new headquarters on Graham Avenue.

However, the report says a refurbishment would be cost-prohibitive.

"The full evaluation of options that included a restoration of the PSB against the applied criteria has determined that the restoration of the building would not better meet the needs of the city, would not better contribute to downtown revitalization priorities, and would not provide value above and beyond the other alternatives," the report states.

"These limitations, along with an associated high cost of restoration combine to make a strong case in favor of demolition."

The building and parkade were constructed in 1965 in the brutalist style of modernism and clad in Tyndall limestone. But the years of freezing and thawing in Winnipeg have taken their toll.

Since 2006, a plywood-covered walkway has lined the street outside the building at William Avenue and King Street, to protect pedestrians from the risk of limestone cladding falling from the facade.

The parking garage has been closed since August 2012 after engineering reports raised structural concerns with the facility.

Although the PSB has "certain architectural and historical significance" its current state and the limitations of the exterior cladding make it unsuitable for a significant and costly restoration project, the report states.

The design presents a number of challenges, including:

  • The entrance is not at street level and presents accessibility challenges.
  • The main floor is not barrier-free which limits its potential uses.
  • The existing column structure limits the development of underground parking.
  • It will be financially impractical to retain the Tyndall stone cladding.

The report also presents three options to re-using the space once the PSB and parkade and removed. They include:

  • Large public space/private development

This option recommends the city create a public space on portions of the land with surplus land sold to a private sector developer.

  • Civic campus

This option recommends the development of a small public space, the construction of a new building for the Planning, Property and Development Department (PPD), the construction of a small, 95-stall parking structure with office space for the Winnipeg Parking Authority (WPA), and the sale of surplus land.

  • Large parking structure

This option recommends the development of a small public space, the construction of a 520-stall parking structure with office space at grade for WPA, and the sale of surplus land.

The report will be presented to the city's Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage and Downtown Development next Tuesday.

Report to city hall committee on Public Safety Building

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