Developers push for residential component to Polo Park area

Two developers are asking the city of Winnipeg to amend the zoning around Polo Park to allow residential apartment towers to be constructed.

Adding apartment towers to city's largest retail area requires significant zoning amendments

Developers see huge residential addition to Polo Park as next step in area's development (Google Street View)

With Polo Park nearly "saturated" with retail offerings, two major developers are asking the city to change land use rules in the area and open the door to significant residential development.

The request has taken its first step by being formally proposed to the city's Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development.

Residential construction is currently  prohibited around the Polo Park mall site by a set of rules under the airport vicinity protection area (AVPA) secondary plan. The purpose of the AVPA is to "protect the 24-hour air operations of the airport by limiting residential noise complaints."

Cadillac Fairview and Towers Realty Group have made separate submissions to the city to amend the AVPA and allow multi-family residential blocks to be constructed.

In its submission to the city of Winnipeg, Cadillac Fairview sees its Polo Park development plan as similar to a project the company is doing in Richmond, B.C., though the projection for the Winnipeg site is not quite as dense.

The B.C. project involves 12 residential towers, a central plaza and thousands of parking stalls. 

Cadillac Fairview would like to add residential housing on its property around the Polo Park mall site, on the north side of Portage Avenue, along St. Matthews and St. James streets and the west side of Empress Street. The company's submission to the city says the Polo Park site is currently "underutilized" and "retail is close to saturation."

Cadillac Fairview also says residential development on the site could generate tax revenue that would be earmarked for contributions to pay for the construction of Investors Group Field. 

Towers has identified 17 properties it has targeted for development, mostly along the west side of St. James Street between Portage and Sargent avenues.

In it's submission to the property and planning committee, Cadillac Fairview says there have been changes to shopping patterns because of e-commerce and "different consumer preferences," and identifies residential development as a way to "balance the mix of uses" around the Polo Park mall.

Cadillac Fairview is targeting its property around the Polo Park mall, while Tower Realty Group sees residential development along St. James Street. (City of Winnipeg)

Both companies believe the area is ready for residential development because of its access to transit routes and roads and the existing retail components.

The request to change the area plan is only a first step in the redevelopment plan and any significant changes would be subject to extensive city planning requirements.