Merchants Hotel set for major redevelopment plan

Changes are coming to the notorious Merchants Hotel, a North End Winnipeg bar and hotel that has been a magnet for trouble in recent years.

Changes are coming to the notorious Merchants Hotel, a North End Winnipeg bar and hotel that has been a magnet for trouble in recent years.

Premier Greg Selinger announced the 99-year-old building and four adjacent lots will be turned into a mixed-use building that will contain housing, education and commercial business.

More consultation will be done on what is exactly needed for the site at the corner of Selkirk Avenue and Andrews Street.

A community-based coalition of North End organizations first announced last year that it wanted to acquire the property and redevelop it for the good of the neighbourhood.

The coalition consists of approximately 20 organizations, including: the North End Community Renewal Corporation (NECRC), Urban Circle Training Centre Inc., The Selkirk Avenue BIZ, Andrews Street Family Centre, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad Inc., Community Education Development Agency, the University of Winnipeg Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies, Red River College and SEED Winnipeg.

"Selkirk Avenue is central to the life of North End residents and we look forward to revitalizing the neighbourhood and renewing the welcoming spirit of community," said Rob Neufeld, executive director of NECRC.

"Many people have worked diligently and look forward to seeing this project begin. This is truly a celebration of collaboration, energy and vision."

At the heart of the redevelopment plan is the three-storey hotel, built in 1913 as a hardware store and converted in 1933 into the hotel and beverage room.

The province has purchased the property for $1.3 million and is holding it until a development plan is established by the coalition. 

The Merchants Hotel is a familiar place for police, who have been called there numerous times over the years.

Last April, a 42-year-old woman was stabbed to death just outside the hotel. And in September 2010, a 47-year-old man was attacked and set on fire after he had gone to the hotel to buy beer.