Residential development is one of the most powerful tools available to strengthen the downtown. It increases the daily cycle of activity from the normal “9 to 5” business hours to a “24 hour” urban neighbourhood. This is not only a more efficient use of city infrastructure; it expands the market for downtown businesses and services.
The Downtown Master Plan has called for an additional three to five thousand new residents in and around the downtown core. J.C. Williams, Retail Specialists and Consultants for the Downtown Master Plan, has recommended that the growth of retail and commercial activity in the downtown will require significant increases in the downtown residential population.
Downtown residents create a more diverse market by demanding a variety of products and services. Restaurants and cafes have an incentive to stay open later, which in turn encourages more “life on the street”, particularly in the evening hours. Residents are also more likely to take part in community activities downtown and take an active role on downtown improvement issues. The increase of activity, as well as a sense of neighbourhood ownership, assist with crime prevention and opportunity reduction, and are consistent with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles. The opportunity to live and work downtown also reduces reliance on vehicle transportation.
Suitable living accommodations are an important amenity in corporate relocation decisions. The City of Winnipeg has successfully demonstrated that the development of stylish living options in the downtown core has been a major catalyst in the attraction of corporate head offices.
The creative class, from multimedia marketing agencies and IT start-ups, to the emerging film and arts entrepreneurs, is transforming the fabric of our urban core. Stylish urban living options are also needed to accommodate and retain these young urban professionals.
There is a scarcity of urban housing options for active middle-aged people whose children have left home and who are seeking a carefree urban lifestyle.
Recent residential conversion projects at Lisgar Place and the former DeMarco building have provided some sixty-three (63) new units. However, the demand remains for many more student housing and faculty living spaces.
With a residential population of approximately 600 within the Business Improvement Area (BIA), new residential development is imperative to downtown revitalization.
Artist’s rendering: The Brewer Lofts