by Stefano Grande
Hundreds of people flocked downtown to explore the urban lifestyle on May 8 and 9 during the Downtown Living Tour & Exhibition, presented by the Downtown BIZ and CentreVenture.
Attendees first gathered in the “spectacular” atrium in Manitoba Hydro’s new downtown office tower to see over 20 exhibits about all the exciting projects happening downtown. That included condo projects such as YouCube, residential projects such as Residences on York — formerly the Sheraton Hotel — other developments such as Sport Manitoba’s new building and the University of Winnipeg’s campus expansion, and park redevelopments such as Millennium Library Park, Central Park and Old Market Square.
There were also numerous open houses, including condos on the Waterfront and in the Exchange District and apartments in the heart of downtown and the Exchange — from new developments to renovated warehouses.
Talking to those who toured through the open houses and the exhibits, I was delighted to hear people are impressed with the direction the downtown has taken on its road to revitalization.
These opinions are supported by facts. Over the last eight years, the downtown average sale prices for condos have more than doubled — a sign the market has returned. And with Statistics Canada showing for the first time in a long time that the downtown residential population is increasing, no one can rationally argue that the downtown is not on a rebound. Statistically, there are more people walking on the sidewalks and more annual visits to the downtown today than perhaps in the last 30 years.
There is no doubt that more and more people are finding the downtown an attractive place to call home. The reasons are obvious: the downtown is perhaps the most pedestrian-friendly, most vibrant and most socially-diverse neighbourhood in all of Winnipeg, attracting baby bombers, young singles, couples and professionals.
The dawn of a growing and vibrant new neighbourhood is upon us.
(Stefano Grande is the executive director of the Downtown BIZ.)