A contentious redevelopment proposal for the site of a now demolished historic mansion in Winnipeg’s Crescentwood neighborhood hit a major roadblock at city hall on Tuesday.
The downtown municipal committee rejected a recommendation to rezone the lot located at 514 Wellington Cres.
The rezoning would pave the way for the construction of a four-story, eight-unit condominium where the century-old Gordon House was demolished in 2020, despite efforts by some community residents to save it.
Some of those residents were among a dozen people who spoke out against the condominium proposal at the committee meeting on Tuesday.
They argued that the multi-family development, which reportedly provided housing for people 55 and older, would not match the character of one of the city’s oldest and wealthiest neighborhoods.
Opponents also accused the developer of trying to get the project approved before the city approves a heritage conservation district project for the area – a statute that aims to preserve “the character and appearance of a neighborhood, ”according to the city of Winnipeg, placing development control in an area.
“It’s premature, it’s a slap in the face for the neighborhood,” said River Heights-Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow, who moved the motion to reject the rezoning proposal.
Com. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-Est Fort Garry) joined Orlikow in rejecting the proposal, while Council. Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre) voted to continue.
The proposal has yet to go to city council for a final decision.
Developer Jeff Thompson told the committee he consulted with members of the community, including two open houses, and changed the design to meet community concerns. This included adding a private driveway to avoid using an existing lane as a driveway, he said.
Orlikow asked Thompson why he is presenting his proposal now, instead of waiting for the city to complete its study of the heritage district proposal, which is expected to take place this summer.
Thompson replied that the project had already suffered significant delays and that he did not know when the city would make a final decision.
“We have been working on this project for five years,” he said. “We’ve been stranded, we’ve had all kinds of, as you know, ups and downs here and a pretty rocky road, and we’re at a point where we’re ready to present.”
Thompson said those who opposed the project at the committee meeting were a small fraction of those who attended the public meetings. However, only one person other than those hired by the developer signed up to speak up for the project on Tuesday.
Consultation ‘a joke’: resident
The community member who came forward in support refused to speak when given the opportunity. The committee then heard from nearly a dozen people who opposed the development.
“The open house consultation meetings were a joke,” Christine Skene told the committee.
“The benefit of being virtual saw the hosts interpret the questions posed in terms more favorable to their point of view and the answers twisted to appear to support the proposition.”
Skene was among a group of community members who lobbied to save the house that previously stood on the property, which was originally slated to be demolished in 2016.
Thompson had planned to build three single-family homes on the site, but then decided on the proposal to build condos.
A city spokesperson said the developer had worked with the administration to make changes to the plans in response to community concerns.
The city determined that the proposed development “adds to the mix of housing types in the neighborhood in a contextual way,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
It is also “consistent with the contextual historic built form” including historic setbacks, trees and fences, and “shows high quality architectural design” which uses materials similar to those used in the mansion that previously stood. at the site and in the immediate vicinity, the spokesperson said.