Flying saucer condo project gets off the ground

Downtown Winnipeg’s flying saucer condominium project is nearly ready for liftoff.

Green Seed Development president Mark Penner recently confirmed the prerequisite 50 per cent pre-sale mark has been reached and that construction is expected to get underway this month.

62M, named after its 62 MacDonald Ave. address, will be hoisted aloft by 11-metre high stilts and will “looks more like a spaceship or a flying puck than a building,” says Winnipeg condo specialist Bill Thiessen.

The $4.5-million project was designed by award-winning Winnipeg-based 5468796 Architecture, the six-year-old firm’s name reflecting its business registration number. The project will feature 40 units with identical pie-wedged layouts of 610-square-feet with the narrow end containing the entry and utility spaces.

“We came up with the circular design and pie (wedge)- shaped units to create a very efficient building and floor plan,” 5468796 partner Johanna Hurme told Canadian Architect. “Then we raised the building in the air to give every occupant a fantastic view (through floor to ceiling glass).”

Units set to take off next spring

The units are priced between $195,000 and $215,000 depending on the view and are expected to be ready by spring 2014.

62M, which will feature a garden comprised of, fittingly enough, 62 Jack pines, represents the latest example of 5468796 Architecture’s efforts to sate Winnipeggers’ appetite for unique multi-family architecture.

“We have a massive art community here and we have a very, very large group of people that enjoys complexity or they enjoy modern architecture,” Thiessen says.

“And there are really cutting-edge award-winning firms in Winnipeg, led by Sasa Radulovic and Johanna Hurme. They’re become one of the top architecture firms out there and they have spearheaded a lot of the unique architecture that we see.

“They’re very progressive and they’ve won the Academy Awards of architecture. It’s as if every time you open up the paper, it seems that they’re in Vancouver, Ottawa or L.A. picking up awards for things they’ve done. All of them have won unbelievable international awards.”

YouCube features distinct open concept

Next to 62M, at the corner of Waterfront and Heaton Avenue, is YouCube, another partnership between Penner and 5468796 Architecture, which earned a Canadian Architect Award of Distinction. The design for the three-storey townhouse-style condo was honoured for its contemporary, open concept. Phase 1 is 99 per cent occupied and Phase II is expected to get underway shortly.

Penner and 5468796 Architecture also teamed up on the three-storey Bloc_10 condo in the desirable River Heights neighbourhood.

The low-budget, 10-unit housing project earned 5468796 the prestigious Governor-General’s Medal for Architecture. The “white-box” concept enabled buyers to purchase unfinished units featuring rudimentary plumbing, heating and electrical systems. The purchasers would then decide the rooms and finishes they preferred on each floor. Bloc_10 also earned a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence and a Governor General’s Medal for Design Excellence.

And, the BGBX condominium development on Wall Street enabled 5468796 to snag a P/A (progressive architecture) Award from U.S.-based Architect Magazine. 5468796, which teamed up with CSB Corp. on the project, patterned BGBX after a big-box retail development (ergo its name), featuring alternating two- and three-storey loft condos.

“(5468796) is a firm that has an impressive influence and there are others that are like-minded that pick up on that trail,” says Thiessen. “The other upstart firms in Winnipeg are very cutting-edge as well so you have that eclectic selection of architecture.”

Slow, but steady growth

Winnipeg’s slow but steady economic growth has also helped keep the real estate market humming.

“We are never the fastest pony, but we’re not the one that will fall apart either,” Thiessen says. “We’re expected to lead Canada in resale price increases this year. It’s a modest but a diversified economy that keeps the wheels chugging and people are doing quite well financially.

“And our downtown is doing so much better than it has been . . ..a whole bunch of good things happened all at once. The NHL coming back was a big deal. So a lot of the stars are aligned.

“We now get people that will pay more than a million dollars for a condo in downtown Winnipeg. If you said to someone five years ago that people would pay a million dollars for a condo in downtown Winnipeg, they would have laughed at you.”

Barry is a news editor and writer for Real Estate News EXchange . His previous journalistic career was spent in every department imaginable at various Canadian news services and daily…

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Barry is a news editor and writer for Real Estate News EXchange . His previous journalistic career was spent in every department imaginable at various Canadian news services and daily…

Read more

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