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  #81  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2017, 4:44 PM
CoryB CoryB is offline
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Originally Posted by biguc View Post
I too miss the Mcnally Robinson. Moving to Polo Park was an obvious mistake at the time, but they got their comeupance sooner than they deserved.
It was more the ill timed moved of McNally Robinson into the Ontario market that sunk their fortunes. The Polo Park location was just a causality of a bigger problem.
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  #82  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2017, 2:31 AM
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It was more the ill timed moved of McNally Robinson into the Ontario market that sunk their fortunes. The Polo Park location was just a causality of a bigger problem.
Saw today that McNally's sign that's been there for several years is now gone from the store.

Are the new owners going to relaunch the store under a different name, or keep the "legacy" McNally Robinson name because it still carries some cache?

Perhaps I'm over-reacting and the new owners are just replacing an old, worn out sign.
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  #83  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2017, 5:15 PM
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Interesting WFP article today about 30 year PP anniversary. Tried to spin as positive. Abe's comment about the band office...
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  #84  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2017, 5:18 PM
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Originally Posted by LilZebra View Post
Saw today that McNally's sign that's been there for several years is now gone from the store.

Are the new owners going to relaunch the store under a different name, or keep the "legacy" McNally Robinson name because it still carries some cache?

Perhaps I'm over-reacting and the new owners are just replacing an old, worn out sign.
Are you talking about the GP location? Cuz this is a Portage Place thread... If so, they're just renovating as it's now the only part of the mall that hasn't been upgraded.
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  #85  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2017, 6:50 PM
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Was on my way out when I observed the missing sign. Will ask an enp next time
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  #86  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2017, 9:55 PM
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Originally Posted by YWG-RO View Post
Interesting WFP article today about 30 year PP anniversary. Tried to spin as positive. Abe's comment about the band office...
You mean Portage Place is still a mall, thought it was a homeless shelter with food court.
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  #87  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2017, 10:59 PM
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30 Years Ago Today

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News reports from September 16. 1987


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University of Winnipeg Institute of Urban Studies professor explains why Portage Place will be a success.

Last edited by Jets4Life; Sep 16, 2017 at 11:10 PM.
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  #88  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2017, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by YWG-RO View Post
Interesting WFP article today about 30 year PP anniversary. Tried to spin as positive. Abe's comment about the band office...
How can the WFP spin this as positive? Can you post some of the article? I can't get by the firewall.
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  #89  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2017, 1:46 AM
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Originally the Jets in 1983-84 wanted to have a new arena as part of the new portage place plan.
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  #90  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2017, 1:49 AM
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In the Summer months, on a Sunday because the "downtown library" was closed, I'd spend some time at the Portage Pl. McNally's just for somewhere to go besides staying in my downtown apt.

There were plans to have an outdoor patio, but these plans were scuttled at one point.

Years earlier, like back in '92, I bought the "Whole Internet" book, which explained how to use telnet, ftp, irc, pine (e-mail), etc... That's how I learned to use Draco BBS in March '93 to get onto the 'Net using those tools. Was my first taste of Linux / UNIX.
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  #91  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2017, 1:54 AM
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Originally the Jets in 1983-84 wanted to have a new arena as part of the new portage place plan.
That was when Pierre Trudeau was our PM and Lloyd Axworthy was a Min. of Employment & Immigration.
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  #92  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2017, 4:06 AM
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I don't know if the Freep got rid of the paywall, or if it was temporarily deactivated during the NDP leader vote, but here it is...

Winnipeg Free Press
Sat. Sep. 16, 2017

Quote:
From false hope to humble future

Despite the hype, Portage Place never became a shopping destination. It has a better sense of its identity three decades later

By: Jessica Botelho-Urbanski
RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
30 years, Portage Place is operating with many shuttered storefronts. Purchase Photo Print



It’s around 3 p.m. on Monday and sunshine streaks through the glass ceiling of Portage Place Shopping Centre.
A man who appears to be in his 20s, sporting blond bedhead and a ripped pea green sweater, is playing the keys in Edmonton Court. He entertains customers who ebb and flow down the escalators and echoing halls.
Since 2014, the multi-hued "Happiano" has been a fixture in the heart of the mall. The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ placed seven pianos around the city’s core back then and this is the last remaining instrument.
The man belts an angsty version of The Killers’ When You Were Young, drawing a small crowd.
When it was young, Portage Place had rock-star ambitions of its own. On Sunday, the mall turns 30, settling into middle age and new priorities.
The arrival of the 281,000-sq.-ft., $80-million downtown mall was widely feted before its opening on Sept. 17, 1987. It boasted space for 153 stores, which would include McNally Robinson Booksellers and Holt Renfrew, Imax and Famous Players theatres and new locations for Picasso’s Restaurant and Gunn’s Bakery.

Five days before it opened, the Winnipeg Free Press dedicated six articles to Portage Place. In one story titled Core gets breath of new life, a freelancer extolled the mall’s virtues and explained some of the controversy surrounding the North Portage Development Corp. project.
About 50 businesses were expropriated to make way for Portage Place. Developers believed high-end retailers, such as Holt Renfrew, would woo suburbanites to shop downtown, along with extended evening hours designed to fuel competition between the longstanding institutions of Eaton Place and the Hudson’s Bay.
"The multimillion-dollar retail/entertainment complex was thought by the corporation to be the first step toward this (downtown) revitalization and that, with a strong commercial core and residential development, other facilities would soon follow," wrote Annalee Greenberg in 1987.
All three levels of government kicked in about $300 million for the mixed-use mega project, and Cadillac Fairview signed on to manage operations of the mall. Portage Place seemed poised for success when an estimated 200,000 people flocked to opening day.
GLENN OLSEN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES
There's an adage about people living in glass houses, well, what about climbing on glass roofs? A trio of workmen climb to the peak of the Portage Place mall, mountaineer-style, to secure the glass panels in 1987. Purchase Photo Print

Less than a year later, the Free Press reported on slow sales and friction among tenants and management.
"Depending who you talk to, the city’s newest shopping centre is either the salvation of Winnipeg’s downtown or an expensive and dubious experiment," wrote Zena Olijnyk in 1988.
An anonymous storeowner explained her exasperation to Olijnyk.
"(Portage Place) should either cater to expensive tastes completely or go the other way, with more stores that would attract the average person," she said.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES
Artist's drawing of Portage Place. Drawing published June 7, 1986. Purchase Photo Print

● ● ●
Thirty years later, it appears the mall got the memo, shifting focus to affordable outlets.
Dollarama seems to be the busiest store, boasting an S-shaped queue. Ardene and Shoppers Drug Mart dominate broad swaths of floor space.
While a handful of storefronts are shuttered, the vacancy rate is just under five per cent, said general manager Dave Stone. This doesn’t include the vacant Globe Cinema or Imax spaces on the third floor.
That upper perch is now home to offices, the Independent Living Resource Centre and Prairie Theatre Exchange. Peering from its railings, the central clock tower is ominous. Directly underneath the clock lies a time capsule to be opened in 2062 (assuming the mall stays open that long).
RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Melanie Bernadsky, part owner of Freshcut Flowers. Purchase Photo Print

With True North Square being built just a few blocks to the south, Melanie Bernadsky, co-owner of Freshcut Downtown, isn’t sure how her business will be affected. She’s been at Portage Place since 1997 when her family ran the mall’s Academy Florists franchise.
"I don’t love the idea of services, of shopping or of customers just shifting (to True North Square)," she said. "I love a vibrant downtown and I love seeing growth happen, but is it going to increase people coming down shopping? Or is it just going to have the same people (from Portage Place) moving down?"
Jino Distasio, director of the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Winnipeg, is watching the development closely. He suggests the mall and square could complement one another.
"I think it’s all about a changing downtown dynamic. We’re on a 15-year high with seeing $3 billion of recent investment in the downtown. We haven’t seen that scale of development in 100 years," he said.
True North Square has been touted as downtown’s "new dynamic epicentre," at least according to Jim Ludlow, president of True North Real Estate Development. The mixed-use commercial and residential development will house a hotel, a public plaza, apartments, offices and restaurants. If all goes to plan, the project between Graham and St. Mary avenues should be completed by 2020.
RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
When the mall opened in 1987, it was to great fanfare. Purchase Photo Print

When Portage Place opened during an economic downturn in the 1980s, Distasio said planners didn’t take into account its primary clientele: inner-city shoppers.
In a 2010 report compiled by New York firm MJB Consulting, Michael Berne laid out recommendations to improve the city’s retail landscape, including focusing more on discount retailers for Portage Avenue.
Back in Winnipeg this week for the International Downtown Association conference, Berne said he strolled through Portage Place, which seems to be heeding his advice.
"Portage Place mall is serving a customer and, to some degree, reflects the demographics that you find in the area," Berne said. "Thirty (years) is not a bad milestone for a downtown mall, especially if you put it in a North American context. A lot of the downtown malls that were built in the United States did not last that long.
"(Portage Place) is not on life-support like a lot of U.S. malls. I wouldn’t say it’s thriving either," he said.
The mall’s focus seems to be changing with an influx of students and new Canadians populating downtown. Posters plastered around the mall cite "Five great reasons to love Portage Place: Services. Convenience. Community. Food. Variety."
Amenities and services — dentists, lawyers, chiropractors, Service Canada — have made the mall more useful. Clients also refer to the food court many times over as a "meeting place."
[IMG]https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*266/170914_Portage_Place_Fd_Crt_.jpg[/IMG] RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Ralph McKenny frequents the food court at Portage Place mall to socialize with friends. Purchase Photo Print
Ralph McKenny comes daily to sip coffee, buy scratch tickets and on Wednesday, fill out a thank-you card for a Health Sciences Centre tech who fixed his scooter.
"I don’t like sitting around home, so I come here and there’s always somebody I run into," the downtown resident said.
Between bites of Chester Fried chicken wings, a man named Abe called Portage Place "the biggest band office in Manitoba."
Hailing from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation and now living downtown, he comes by the food court a few times a week to eat and meet loved ones. But he worries about the food court’s cleanliness and the security guards’ looming presence.
The guards don what appear to be bulletproof vests (a security guard won’t confirm this, but tells a reporter: "Please don’t try it.")
"I think they go beyond their call of duty sometimes. I’ve seen three of them pushing a woman down to the floor one time," he said, describing a past shoplifting incident and shaking his head.
● ● ●
RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Purchase Photo Print

Behind the mall, security from The Forks North Portage Partnership is trying to deal with frequent drug trafficking.
Two neon-clad guards stood their ground there Wednesday afternoon, at one point breaking up a fight between two women. Amid the verbal spat, one woman threw her bicycle at the other before the guards diffused things.
A few minutes later, a different woman asked a reporter if she’d like to buy pills.
Community activists with the Urban Warrior Alliance are trying to stamp out the trafficking to protect women and children who use the mall’s back doors.
Earlier this year, they staged demonstrations at the mall, where they sang, drummed, smudged and dumped drugs on the ground. Prescription pills, T3s and crystal meth are among the most frequent offenders.
Alliance member Denny Wood said the group took up the cause after a female elder was threatened with a gun. She was filming a drug deal at Portage Place and had her phone snatched.
"It’s our role, it’s our duty," Wood said. "It’s in our values to protect the women."
The group participated in a round dance after an elder was kicked out of the food court last year for allegedly loitering. Joseph Meconse received an apology and was made an honorary ambassador for Portage Place.
Portage Place security manager Nick Basarowich said two to six security guards are on duty daily, while Forks North Portage Partnership security roams the back lot. He noted mall security has "a very strong working relationship with (the Winnipeg Police Service)" and "any type of criminal activity that takes place in or around the shopping centre is a police matter and is reported."
While issues arise often, it’s clear those who love the mall would go to bat to see it succeed.
RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
City Jewellers owner Jacqueline Curpen Purchase Photo Print

City Jewellers co-owners Peter and Jacqueline Curpen are staying put, having worked there since the early ’90s, opened two more stores since and developed loyal clientele.
Artbeat Studio — which provides art therapy for adults who have mental health issues — established a Portage Place-based alumni gallery, Upbeat Artworks, in 2014. Community projects coordinator Christine Strike said their experience has been largely positive.
[IMG]https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*266/170914_Portage_Pl_Art_Beat_jpg.jpg[/IMG] RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Christine Strike, at Artbeat studio in Portage Place. Purchase Photo Print
"We had a meeting yesterday and we were discussing how Portage Place is a community centre, because there isn’t a community centre downtown," she said.
Though it celebrated its 10th anniversary with a block party and its 25th with a slighter hurrah and slices of cake, no major celebrations are planned for the mall’s 30th anniversary, according to Stone, save for logo and website rebranding this year.
Just maybe a roaming piano player might sing Happy Birthday in Edmonton Court. After all, as Berne said: "Thirty years is not a bad run."
j.botelho.urbanski@gmail.com

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  #93  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2017, 4:22 AM
Tacheguy Tacheguy is offline
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I thought it was a very good article. gives some perspective to the current situation.
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  #94  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2017, 10:02 AM
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Video Link


CBC 24 Hours report on the opening of Portage Place on September 17, 1987
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  #95  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2017, 3:43 PM
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Portage Place was originally managed by Cadillac Fairview (CF) that also has long managed Polo Park. When Portage Place opened they allegedly put pressure onto retailers wanting into Polo Park to also open a location in Portage Place. The story goes if you were not in Polo Park at the time you needed to open in Portage Place to get on the list of future vacancies. This likely lead to a poorly planned list of tenants taking up space in Portage Place. Not sure the exact timing but CF ran into some trouble in the down years around the early 90s and actually entered creditor protection to restructure. While restructuring it dropped Portage Place as one of its properties.
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  #96  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2017, 3:58 PM
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That was an interesting article and it makes a good point that Portage Place the mall is not the catastrophic failure that some like to describe it as. It actually functions fairly well as a hub for the local community.

That said, the entire North Portage development can probably be classified as a catastrophic failure when you compare the cost of the entire thing and its actual results versus what was intended. 30 years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, and all there is to show for it is a useful but generally unremarkable mall, and a bunch of rapidly depreciating apartment buildings. I don't think anyone would look back at it and say that it was money well spent relative to what else could have been done with that kind of money in those days. But at the same time it's hard to fault the original project backers... as Andy6 has astutely pointed out previously, on paper, the North Portage Development had everything, and people would be doing backflips if something on a similar scale were announced today.
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  #97  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2017, 4:29 PM
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The thing about Portage Place is that it's actually designed remarkably well. It's failures are more a product of its environment. The Promenade is thoughtfully designed. It was built it streetfront CRUs all along Portage, as well as some on the Promenade side...

It's honestly not too hard to imagine it being reborn to its full potential in the next decade... some further residential development on its surface lots to the north and/or on the 2 pad foundations at either end would be huge. Even one of the pads getting residential could be enough to trigger a cosmetic renovation of the mall, which would subsequently attract some "better" retailers, and more residential development in the area. The biggest white elephant for me is the 3rd storey - it will take a massive overhaul. I've been thinking one way they could use it were if/when they build a tower on one of the pads, to close it off and us it as lobby/amenity space for the new tower.

No, it's likely never going to challenge Polo Park or St. Vital again - but I don't think it's that hard to imagine it becoming more prominent and useful to a wider array of people and needs in the near future. The pieces are there, the time is right, and TFNP are about ready to divest their remaining assets in North Portage, likely as soon as the first Railside development breaks ground.
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  #98  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2017, 4:47 PM
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Originally Posted by buzzg View Post
The thing about Portage Place is that it's actually designed remarkably well. It's failures are more a product of its environment
Good design takes the environment into careful consideration. Portage Place did not do this at all so I would not say that it was "designed remarkably well". I agree that there were some cool ideas, but they don't make sense in the area.
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  #99  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2017, 5:01 PM
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^ The idea of Portage Place was conceived at a time when Eaton's and The Bay downtown were still huge heavy hitters in Winnipeg's retail scene. The complex made good sense then. Of course, what was true in 1978 had changed radically 10 years later... Portage Place in conjunction with those department stores as anchors functioned as a normal Winnipeg regional mall for about a decade, and that was it. By 1998 Eaton's was sinking and Portage Place entered a steep decline.

Portage Place really had the misfortune of being built at a time when things were starting to change very quickly in downtown retail.
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  #100  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2017, 9:52 PM
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In terms of the vacant movie theater and Imax in Portage Place I think the plan that makes the most sense is a conversion to office space like the south side between Edmonton and Vaughan. The challenge is the upcoming surplus of downtown office space likely means that isn't financial viable for at least the next 10 years.

As for the retail spaces fronting onto Portage Ave, until the mall allows those spaces to open onto Portage and permanently close the mall entrance they will remain as-is. It was very telling that many years back when HMV moved into where Shoppers is now they briefly tried using the Portage Ave doors and quickly realized the theft issues and shut them down except for a few midnight launches when the mall side was closed and it wasn't too long those also stopped. Then more recently Shoppers took over the space and tried the street side entrance for less than six months before running into similar issues and permanently closing it down, and that from the sort of business that is needed downtown with extended hours to help attract residents.
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