Starlight now wants $50M in grants, $240M in loans from feds for Portage Place deal, MP says
City has promised $20M, province $29M in tax increment financing for downtown Winnipeg mall redevelopment
A deal that would see Toronto's Starlight Investments purchase and redevelop the Portage Place mall in downtown Winnipeg is proving elusive, as the company appears to be looking for more support from the federal government.
According to St. Boniface-St. Vital MP Dan Vandal, the Liberal minister for northern affairs, the company is now asking for $50 million in grants and a $240 million in loans.
Starlight had previously said it needed $20 million from the federal government, in addition to $20 million already committed by the City of Winnipeg and $28.7 million in tax increment financing approved by the provincial government.
"That's going to take some time to negotiate," Vandal told CBC. "We're still committed to speaking to Starlight to try to make this project work."
The company made a $69.9 million offer in 2019 to buy the property, and promised $400 million to redevelop the massive downtown Winnipeg mall, but said the deal was contingent on funding from all three levels of government.
The deal to purchase the property has been repeatedly delayed, including a request from Starlight for an extension last August, after the federal government said it needed more time to review the company's initial $20 million ask.
Starlight's redevelopment plan would see two 20-storey residential towers rise from the blocks-long property, and new retail and office space would be added to the 439,600-square-foot building.
Starlight has said its plan includes creating a community hub — to be called "P3 Commons" — and a 24/7 space that will also include public washrooms.
Vandal, who served as a city councillor in Winnipeg from 1995 to 2004, and again from 2006 to 2014, says he's keen to see the project completed, but was caught off guard by a new and larger request for funding from the company.
Starlight made the request for more funding and the loan from the federal government "about eight or nine days ago," he said, and it came as a surprise.
"I know the importance of downtown housing and the importance of urban revitalization. So I support the project," he said Tuesday.
"I want to see it go forward. But when when the ask gets changed at the last minute, then that's a problem."
He said federal officials are "committed to continuing to engage with Starlight, and my message is that I want to see this work."
CBC News has requested comment from Starlight Investments.