The team behind the conceptual pre-development stage of Brandon University’s downtown development is drawing from their experience in guiding a similar process for the University of Winnipeg.
Formed in 2004 in order to address the needs associated with the University of Winnipeg’s rapid growth, the University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation (UWCRC) has overseen the post-secondary institution’s approximately $250-million development, CEO Jeremy Read said.
The UWCRC serves to internalize some of the university’s development costs within the scope of a non-profit organization, which saved millions of dollars that would have otherwise gone toward private companies’ profit margins.
Although the University of Winnipeg’s downtown development is ongoing, Read said they’re pretty much where they need to be, which has freed up his organization’s capacity to take on other projects through their UWCRC 2.0 initiative.
This is where Brandon University comes into play, for which the UWCRC has stepped up to help draft their pre-development conceptual design stage, along with Prairie Architects Inc. and Manshield Construction.
There are both parallels and differences between the University of Winnipeg’s downtown expansion and Brandon University’s, Read said.
"Any good development is going to leverage what is into what might be possible, and every community has its own identity."
Even so, both projects’ key focus is residential.
The University of Winnipeg Downtown Commons apartment block is 14 storeys tall, and includes 102 self-contained one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments divided into affordable and market units, for both students and the general public.
Brandon University’s proposed downtown apartment building would be comprised of 120 units and would be either 12 storeys or eight, depending on the option, although with planning still at a conceptual stage anything can change before shovels go in the ground.
The units would also be mixed use, which Read said has been an "extraordinary success" in Winnipeg, where units filled up quickly.
Despite the projects’ similarities, Read said there are some distinct differences in the Wheat City that make this project different, crediting Brandon’s rural hub as one of its defining characteristics.
Unlike the Winnipeg location, where parking isn’t of great concern within the context of its downtown-focused population, Read said Brandon residents would more likely rely on vehicles, which creates a greater need to narrow in on parking options.
Like the effort in Winnipeg, the Brandon downtown renewal would create a cultural hub for the city.
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB