Thursday, June 27, 2013

New Westin Tower for Winnipeg

Proposed design for new hotel, offices and condos
The Asper owned Creswin company has been working on the worst kept secret in the city: an office tower in the empty space beside their 201 Portage (formerly Canwest-TD building).  Like a lot of Portage and Main developments, the intent was to create more than one tower. Richardson was like that, Trizec was liked and the TD tower was like that.

Inevitably, in all of the cases mentioned, an economic cycle ended and plans for further expansion were shelved. In the case of 201 Portage though a huge gap tooth was left on Main Street where a once beloved building stood. The McIntyre building was actually town down in 1979 for a parking lot and not to support the later 1990 construction of 201 Portage Avenue in 1990 atop the CNCP telecommunications building.

A series of buildings got whacked in that block including one that used to house 13 CFRW's offices before they headed to Pembina Highway.

28 or 29 storeys
Winnipeg has not had a Westin Hotel since The Fairmont/Lombard rebranding of the Richardson-owned hotel took place. The company was looking for a way back for some time.

Filling a decades old gap 
The plan for the hotel, offices and condos is contingent on access from Main Street and the use of an alley. The hang up could be the loading docks and garbage pick-up for surrounding buildings. I have no idea how complicated that process is but if people work together this seems to be a problem where solutions can be found.

The inevitable criticisms of placing a hotel downtown and how dangerous it is and that no one will stay there seems to ignore the continued success and longevity of The Fairmont, home to visiting execs and NHL players. As far as I know, it isn't a haunt for activities that scare people off and if the restaurant and lounge activity around the place is any indication with Hy's, Brooklyn's and Baily's, there seems to be a circle of activity surrounding the area.

Please put that clock in as seen in pic
The only gap now on the street if the project goes through will be the pull-in to the hotel along Main Street. I am curious how busy it will be and whether it is problematic for pedestrians.

A certain connectivity takes place when the gap is filled. Whiskey Dix and Fox and Fiddle will no longer have the separation they do from Portage and Main. And the west side of Main can continue the vitality that seems to be taking root with Red River's Paterson GlobalFoods Institute tower beside City Hall.

The one thing that will continue to haunt Portage and Main is the lack of crossings because of the Concourse.  That discussion remains for another day.

Construction should start in August if all ducks are in a row.

This looks like a good project though as a top line hotel at the biggest business corner over a long time parking lot seems like a no brainer and a game changer for that corner.

The design of the building is a lot of glass as per usual now for such towers. The colours create some uniqueness. I am no expert on energy use or design flaws inherent in glass. All I can say is what we have paid dearly for provincial and city built facilities that used limestone cladding. Could this be another example of design issues? Anyone remember glass flying out of the Delta parkade?

Not to throw stone at glass walls...

I still like it and hope that things proceed and that all the bugs are worked out.

Welcome back Westin Hotel.

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