Winnipeg’s troubled Portage Place mall set for $400M makeover

New owner of Manitoba capital's biggest retail white elephant unveils plans including two residential towers, renewed commercial space and public amenities

Western Investor
February 7, 2020

Portage Place mall
Rendering shows planned multimillion-dollar makeover of Winnipeg’s troubled Portage Place mall. | Starlight Developments

The new owner of the biggest white elephant in Winnipeg’s retail history has unveiled a multi-pronged plan for revitalization.

Having paid $47 million for the site, Starlight Investments plans to spend up to $400 million to overhaul the long-underperforming Portage Place mall. The Toronto-based company’s vision includes two residential towers, including student and family housing options, an elevated skywalk, renewed commercial space, a child-care centre and a grocery store. Plans also call for  pedestrian walkways at ground level.

Construction is expected to begin next year. The new concept is designed to integrate live, work, learn, shop and play in a complete community.

“This is a diverse mall and its tenants will reflect the fabric of the community as a whole,” said Starlight spokeswoman Marni Larkin. “New spaces will be created to provide additional opportunities that will attract new tenants not currently in the downtown or that are right-sized based on the new retail demand.”

The lack of a grocery store has long been a factor keeping the downtown population from growing as quickly as it could. There are approximately 20,000 people who live in downtown Winnipeg today, but a number of condominium developments have pre-sold a significant number of units so that number will surely increase in the future.

Blueprints also call for Edmonton Street to be opened as an active and accessible pedestrian mews and open space that will help link up north and south Winnipeg, Larkin said.

The mall’s current tenants will be consulted throughout a four-month stakeholder meeting process.

Geoff has been a contributor to Western Investor for 15 years. He is also a senior business reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, covering real estate and financial services. Geoff plays competitive tennis at a national level in the senior ranks and is an amateur boxer and hockey player. His favourite Star Wars character is Yoda.
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