01 October 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Apartments Winnipeg: Is West Broadway the next big thing?

Apartments Winnipeg on Balmoral Street (in a house)

“I would say that within five years it will probably be comparable to Osborne or Corydon. And I think it’s young professionals and students that are going to take the area over.”

That’s what developer Stefan Aarnio is saying about Winnipeg’s West Broadway Area. Aarnio, a 25-year-old residential developer is betting hundreds of thousands of dollars that this once derelict and devoid of anything awesome area is going to be the next big thing for apartments in Winnipeg.

In a recent interview with The Winnipeg Free Press, Aarnio said he chose West Broadway for his first property development project because he’s convinced it’s poised to become the next Osborne Village or Corydon area. And he’s not alone, with other, more seasoned developers backing his prediction.

And yes you heard me right – West Broadway. That area just south of Broadway Avenue, tucked beside the Sherbrooke Hotel, wrapped within the bends of Balmoral Street. Just last summer you may have noticed a few dumpsters in the area overflowing to take over an entire parking lot. An area that’s widely know to be struggling with crime and poverty.

But if you haven’t been there lately, today’s W.B. scene may surprise you.

There are cafes, shops, pubs and restaurants springing up on almost every corner. Boon Burger is a must for gourmet vegan food-lovers. The Standard is a guaranteed good-time on every pub crawler’s list. Stella’s Cafe and their recently added bakery are packed every single weekend. It seems West Broadway is shaping up to be the perfect location for students and young professionals looking for apartments in Winnipeg. Maybe these developer guys are on to something.

But improving even the most derelict area comes with it’s nay-sayers.

According to blogger Devin Morrow from The Uniter, the official University of Winnipeg newspaper, the gentrification of West Broadway has been in the works for years.

In 2008, Morrow described his experience living in the Osborne village area as too much of a “hipster paradise” and with his skyrocketing rent, he decided to move across the river to West Broadway.

“I liked that the apartment block next to me [in West Broadway] was a Manitoba Housing complex and that everyone on the street has a bike. Sure, it was a bit nerve-racking when those escaped Saskatchewan prisoners showed up next door, but it kind of added to the charm of the area.” said Morrow.

Morrow was settling in nicely to his new digs, but was then surprised by a notice from his landlord asking him to complain to local politicians about the behaviour of Manitoba Housing tenants. He was not impressed by his landlord’s, “blatant elitism” and attempts to, “divide communities into specific economic classes”.

No word today from Morrow or Manitoba Housing on how this letter campaign panned out, but the area continues to grow and change despite one landlord’s discontent for the neighbouring Manitoba Housing tenants. Who knows what unsuspecting neighbourhoods and different kinds of apartments Winnipeg will have to offer us next!

The History of West Broadway

  • West Broadway is the area bound by Osborne Street on the east, Maryland on the west, Portage Avenue on the north and the Assiniboine River on the south.
  • It was once a middle/upper class area. From 1905 to 1925 West Broadway residents included provincial government officials, CP Rail and Eaton’s employees, clergymen, and university staff.
  • Due to the close proximity to the river, homes in the area at the time were valued considerably higher than homes north of Portage Avenue.
  • A number of heritage buildings are in West Broadway including All Saints Anglican Church at 499 Broadway; Wilson House (Klinic Community Centre), 545 Broadway; John C. Scott House, 200 Colony St.; St. Elmo Apartment, 177 Colony; and the William E. Millner House, 51 Balmoral St.

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