Portage Place mall deal delayed three more months

A deal to sell the Portage Place mall to a Toronto company is on hold once again as the federal government asks for more time to analyze its share of the redevelopment of the property.

Federal government needs more time to review $20M contribution to redevelopment of property

Spokesperson for Starlight Investments says company wants deal to close but warns "it wasn't an easy decision" to ask for extension. (Terry Stapleton/CBC)

The Toronto-based company that offered to buy Winnipeg's Portage Place mall more than a year ago is now asking for three more months to close the deal.

Starlight Investment's request came after the federal government signaled it needs more time to review the company's ask for a $20 million contribution to the mall's redevelopment.

Starlight spokesperson Marni Larkin says this will likely be the last extension the company will agree to before deciding to walk away from the deal.

"It wasn't an easy decision for Starlight to ask for this extension, because we are in a pandemic and there are a number of business pressures right now, but they really believe in the project and they see light at the end of the tunnel," Larkin told CBC News Thursday.

The company has offered to buy the property for $69.9 million and promised $400 million to redevelop the massive downtown Winnipeg mall. 

Two 20-storey residential towers would rise from the blocks-long property, and new retail and office space would be added to the 439,600-square-foot building.

The offer is conditional on the three levels of government providing a mix of contributions and tax support adding up to $60 million.

The City of Winnipeg and province of Manitoba have pledged their support, but the federal government wants more time.

Clare MacKay, speaking on behalf of the North Portage Development Corporation (a part of the ownership group of the mall property) says there is an understanding about the need for more time.

"We're hopeful that things are continuing to move along and we look forward to what that investment will eventually be in our downtown; we are hopeful for that," MacKay said. "And given the pandemic we are it's quite understandable that things are moving more slowly than normally would have been."

Alexander Cohen, the press secretary for Mélanie Joly, the federal minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification, says there is still more work to be done before a decision is made.

"The federal government continues to do due diligence on Starlight's proposal," Cohen wrote in an email. "Starlight has chosen to extend their deadline by three months, and we remain in close contact with them."