The City of Winnipeg is building a $2.6-million wall alongside a parking lot it leases to a South River Heights retail complex to protect it from traffic on Waverley Street.
Winnipeg's public works department added a $2.6-million retaining wall to the scope of the Waverley underpass construction project this July, according to a report to council's finance committee.
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The wall will wrap around the west side of a surface-parking lot the city has leased out since 1999 to Piazza De Nardi, a Taylor Avenue retail complex that houses a wine store and high-end grocery.
The wall ensures Piazza De Nardi can continue to lease about 35 parking stalls from the city and will also allow the retail complex to keep its sign and outdoor garden, said Piazza De Nardi's Tom De Nardi.
"It's basically there to leave the corner as it looks today," De Nardi said Monday in a telephone interview. "Initially, when the whole project started, the consultant identified a need for a wall. But then it disappeared."
De Nardi, whose family bought the Taylor Avenue land with the intention of leasing the city land next door over the long term, said he lobbied the city to reinstate the wall because the parking is a crucial amenity for his business, which he describes as unique in Winnipeg.
"It's not a big-box store. It's something that's done with love and passion. We feel Piazza is as much a part of the community as skating rinks," he said.
The city declined requests to explain the increase in scope of the Waverley underpass project, which is now expected to cost $121.4 million, down from an initial budget of $156.3 million.
Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt said he believes the initial budget for the Waverley underpass was grossly inflated and said it is "nonsense" to suggest any savings have been achieved.
He said he supports the idea of protecting Piazza De Nardi, but still questions the cost.
"The De Nardi business has done a lot for the community and the city. There could been a lot of impacts with respect to expropriations," Wyatt said.
"But I do believe the retaining wall they're proposing seems to be the Cadillac version. They definitely could have built one[that was] more economical; $2.6 million is not a good deal for the taxpayers."