New highrise to go up in downtown Winnipeg

A new highrise building is in the works for downtown Winnipeg but most of the details are still under wraps.
Winnipeg's downtown skyline is set to become a little more crowded with a new highrise. (Google Street View)

A new highrise structure is in the works for downtown Winnipeg but most of the details are still under wraps.

Jawad Rathore, president and CEO of Fortress Real Development, said more details will be released soon but he's not yet prepared to say what the building will look like or even where it will be located.

"I would love to … I know everyone wants those details," he said. "We're making a big announcement in about three weeks."

All he would say is it will be a mixed-use concept, which means people can live in one building, work in an adjacent building and have retails services at the base.

And one thing that is certain, there will be a grocery store, Rathore said.

"If you need groceries you can actually go grocery shopping in your pajamas and your flip-flops in the middle of winter just by walking out the door and heading right down," he said.

"And people kind of get this goofy, giggly smile on their face that yeah, you can actually do that."

Rathore said the urban all-in-one building will be unlike anything else in the province.

"We think we’re going to be able to bring a very exciting, dynamic, attractive, sustainable concept about downtown urban living that no ones really seen before in Manitoba," he said. "You're giving people a reason to make a community where they live."

City's tallest building?

There have been reports from bloggers and other media that it will be the city's tallest building, surpassing those at Portage and Main — 34-storey Richardson Building which reaches 124.1 metres (407 feet),  and the skyscraper at 201 Portage (formerly the TD Tower) at 128 metres (420 feet).

Rathore wouldn't comment on that, only to say "there's definitely going to be a tower component."

"We want to bring something the locals will be excited about. We want to create an iconic building that becomes part of the Winnipeg skyline, something that you could put on a postcard," he said.

Rathore was more willing to talk about why the company is so enthusiastic about investing in Winnipeg's downtown.

He said the city is going through the same renaissance he has seen happen in other downtowns. He said Toronto faced the same situation not long ago — it was not somewhere you would have wanted to live.

The 'Jets effect'

"We think the time is right for Winnipeg," Rathore said. "For a long time there wasn't much reason."

What has changed, he refers to as "the Jets effect."

"I can't say enough about how well CentureVenture and the city have done. There's lots of reasons to be downtown," he said.

CentreVenture, an arm's-length development agency of the City of Winnipeg, has spent the past few years buying vacant buildings and renovating them into condominiums to encourage downtown living.

They have also bought troublesome spots like the St. Regis Hotel then shut down the lottery terminals and beverage room in an effort to make downtown a safer place.