Gas Station Arts Centre needs city support to save $30M Osborne Village project

Proponents of the Gas Station Arts Centre met with Winnipeg’s Planning Property and Development committee on Tuesday asking for the city to support the $30 million redevelopment at the site on the corner of River Avenue and Osborne Street.

‘It’s now or never,’ says executive director Nick Kowalchuk

The proposed Gas Station Art Centre's latest artist rendering—view from corner of River Avenue and Osborne Street. Developers behind the mixed-use project are asking the city for funding.

Proponents of the Gas Station Arts Centre met with Winnipeg's planning property and development committee on Tuesday to ask the city to support a $30 million redevelopment on the corner of River Avenue and Osborne Street.

The Gas Station Arts Centre is asking the city for tax increment financing (TIF) that would generate approximately $3 million for the Osborne Village project over the next 15 years.

A TIF is a public financing tool that tries to encourage community improvements in struggling neighbourhoods. The government diverts back additional property taxes generated after redevelopments are completed, so developers can secure loans.

TIFs are meant to spur projects that benefit the community and would not be pursued without public investment, according to the province of Manitoba.

Harry Finnegan, project manager for the Gas Station Arts Centre, said Tuesday the project is "exactly what TIF financing is made to do."

The mixed-use development would contain affordable housing, a new theatre, arts centre, and commercial space on main floor.

Of the 82 housing units in the complex, more than 30 per cent will be designated as affordable housing units.

The housing project would see 10 suites developed for deaf-blind tenants as well as subsidized suits for specifically for artists.

Nick Kowalchuk, Gas Station Arts Centre executive director, said the project will add much needed low-income housing stock to Osborne Village, a neighbourhood that's seen a surge in condo construction in recent years.

The project would create a "community within a village," said Kowalchuk.

"We're looking at having a tired, 100-year-old building that was built as a gas station, developed into an arts centre."

Kowalchuk said in order for the Gas Station project to progress they need the City of Winnipeg to sign on with a TIF.

"We need to be able to say they're here at the table," he said.

"It's now or never."

If the city does not support the project, funding from the province would be put in jeopardy, said Kowalchuk. The city could effectively "kill" the project, he said.

The Gas Station development has a $2 million housing grant from the provincial government to help pay for affordable housing units, but it's time sensitive and expires in July. Proponents are eager to get going to meet Manitoba's deadline.

"We do need to get going on tendering and the permits and all the building process," said Kowalchuk.

With files from Sean Kavanagh


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