Gas Station Arts Centre announces new mixed-use development

The Gas Station Arts Centre in Winnipeg's Osborne Village has announced a new mixed-use housing co-op that could drastically update the corner of River and Osborne.

Plans include an updated theatre, retail and community space, housing co-operative

The proposed Gas Station Theatre's latest artist rendering—view from corner of River and Osborne.

The Gas Station Arts Centre in Winnipeg's Osborne Village has announced a new mixed-use housing co-op that could drastically update the corner of River and Osborne.

The new housing co-operative is an anchor piece of a $32-million redevelopment plan that will include a new 300-seat theatre, expanded retail spaces on Osborne, an enhanced gallery, community space and an eight-storey, 82-unit housing co-op. 

The province hasn't made an official commitment yet, but if they come to the table with support, 24 of the 82 units would be offered as affordable housing for artists through the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL), a charitable organization that offers housing and support to artists who have built their lives in the arts.  An additional six units would be available for Macdonald Youth Services.

"It's housing, and we need more affordable housing in our province," said Kerri Irvin–Ross, the Minister of Housing and Community Development, adding the province is in the final stages of evaluating the project.

Artists have been looking for a home

A scale model of redevelopment site. (Brett Purdy/CBC)
Nick Kowalchuk, executive director of Gas Station Arts Centre, says they are glad to potentially provide a home for PAL.

"It's huge, PAL has been looking for a space to settle as a home in Winnipeg for the past few years, and it would be expensive for them to find something and buy something," he said.

Kowalchuk adds that there is added synergy for both organizations.

"It's a great thing for them to come and settle on our property and our theatre, and it's good for us because then we are engaging our artistic community and then having people that we can turn to for support and help on a daily basis." 

Prime real estate, big visibility

Press conference in Gas Station Theatre courtyard that currently only gets used a few times a year. (Brett PurdyCBC)
The theatre currently sits on some prime real estate in the Osborne Village neighbourhood, and the hope is that this redevelopment plan will maximize the site's potential and increase the revenue and viability of the theatre company for years to come.

The theatre company already has one tenant in the Subway restaurant on Osborne, but the new design would triple the commercial frontage on Osborne.   

As well, the housing cooperative will function as a separate entity and pay a long term lease.  The theatre's portion of the project is $8.9 million.  If they can raise that much for the theatre, they would be able to proceed without a mortgage and if they can get to $4 million they can start the project as planned.

A capital campaign and community report are set to launch on May 27 and shovels could be hitting the dirt as soon as July 2016. 


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