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This article was published 28/12/2017 (1651 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Brandon Downtown Development Corporation is hopeful the city will increase its contribution to the organization in 2018 after the province terminated its multi-year funding agreement.
Elisabeth Saftiuk, executive director of BDDC (formerly Renaissance Brandon), recently provided city council with her annual update on the organization.
"Unfortunately, we were notified that (the province’s) funding partnership, as we know it, had been terminated," Saftiuk said. "What that means, we’re not sure yet. We continue to work with the province to see whether or not there are any funding opportunities It’s just that certainty … no longer exists."
For years, the city provided $250,000 for the downtown development corporation, which the province would match.
Saftiuk requested 2018 funding in the amount of $300,000 from the city, "so that we may continue to use our grant programs to encourage redevelopment, to attract new and unique businesses into our downtown, and so that we may continue to leverage private sector investment."
Coun. Kris Desjarlais (Rosser) said in spite of the provincial funding setback, BDDC was still able to do some incredible work downtown.
"We’re still seeing a strong return on investment for the money that the city is putting in," Desjarlais said. "I’m hoping that we all take that into consideration when we go into budget, that this is money well spent and we’re getting incredible return on investment for downtown Brandon."
Saftiuk highlighted some of the major downtown success stories over the past few years, starting with the historic 1031 Rosser Ave.
This former vacant space was transformed and is now home to Skin Clinics and Fraser Sneath Coffee.
Phase 1 of this project represents an "unprecedented return on investment for the City of Brandon," Saftiuk explained.
"For every dollar invested by our organization, we were able to leverage $12 of private sector investment," she said. "Private investment into this property to date, in terms of redevelopment, is $750,000."
Phase 2 of this redevelopment includes a proposed expansion of the clinic to the second and third floors, with the creation of a full-service day spa.
To show how investment leads to increased assessment values and higher property taxes, Saftiuk delved into this property’s figures. Its assessment value went from $110,000 in 2014 to $415,000 in 2015. The increase in municipal property taxes went from $1,400 in 2014 to nearly $5,000 in 2015.
Prairie Firehouse at 637 Princess Ave. opened its doors in the former fire station in 2015 and continues to draw a significant number of visitors downtown.
"In November 2017, the restaurant attracted 4,100 visitors, compared to 3,500 visitors at the same time last year," Saftiuk said.
"Restaurant sales are also up by $30,000 when compared to the same time last year. This matters because when we spend at local business, more money stays in our local economy."
The BDDC invested more than $80,000 into Phase 1 of this redevelopment project, and with this funding, was able to leverage more than $800,000 of private sector investment.
There is talk of developing a boutique hotel on the second floor of the historic firehouse, and an event space on the third floor.
As costs are prohibitive, Saftiuk noted the owner would need support of BDDC to move ahead on this vision.
Another highlight is Pirouette Active Wear, located at 121 10th St. After sitting vacant for years, this location was renovated and opened in 2016. BDDC provided funding assistance through a redevelopment grant to the property owner and rent abatement program to the business owner.
Prairie Lofts at 829 Rosser Ave. was another success story in 2017. The eight-unit residential project took advantage of an upper-storey residential initiative offered through the province.
A 25,000-square-foot redevelopment project is underway at 29 10th St. This will be the future home to Chez Angela Bakery and Cafe, Muse Boutique and Bridal Studio, and Charleston and Harlow, a luxury soy candle company.
Two photographers, a magazine and a hair stylist are also interested in this location.
"Our rent abatement program has been paramount in helping to attract businesses to this space," Saftiuk said.
"This is a $2.5-million redevelopment project, but our organization’s contribution will be provided through rent assistance … The return on investment we will see on this project will truly be incredible."
Brandon’s downtown has made a lot of progress over the past few years, but as Saftiuk says, they still have a long way to go.
"I truly believe that our downtown can be the neighbourhood in Brandon where people come for the experience and where they want to stay," she said. "With continued investment from the City of Brandon and continued focus from the BDDC, I believe we can get there."
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