Grain Exchange Building Annex
The Grain Exchange Building at 167 Lombard Avenue was completed in 1907 and primarily leased to agriculture-related businesses. During the 1920’s Canada’s reputation as being a major producer and exporter of grain grew. Major additions to the building in 1913, 1914, 1916, 1922, and 1928 were needed to accommodate the tenants’ needs due to the growth of the trade. Throughout the first two decades of its existence, it remained one of the largest office towers in the British Empire.
The Grain Exchange Building Annex was constructed just east of the building to create additional office space for agriculture-related businesses in 1920. It is seen as an important transitional design, a modern translation of the historic architectural language of the neighboring Grain Exchange Building. It combines classically based ornamentation of the early 20th style architecture with minimalist and grid like arrangements of modernist architecture.
In 1992, the Grain Exchange Building was placed on the Buildings Conservation List as a grade II at the request of the owners. MarWest Group of companies (the owners) have put over $13 million into the restoration of the Building and it continues to operate at over 90% occupancy.
As of December 30th 2007 the Annex had been sitting vacant for three years, blocking access of loading and fire trucks to the Grain Exchange Building. There is no basement or insulation resulting in the annex to be heated and cooled by the building. The owners wanted to redevelop the parking lot of the adjacent site along with the Annex into a Parkade with street level retail Since it is connected to the Grain Exchange Building via an overpass, it is considered part of the building, which made it designated grade II on the Building Conservation List (BCL) as well.
A formal application letter from the owners of the buildings to the city clerk was sent December 30th 2007 for a change of designation of the entire Grain Exchange Building from a grade II to grade III listing. The application was later rescinded and an application was sent for the Annex to be placed on the inventory to be evaluated as a separate building so as to retain the Grade II designation of the more significant building. The owners inquired into the removal of the Annex from the BCL in order to develop the site.
On January 12th 2009 the owners notified the Planning, Property and Development Department that they had a parkade proposal for the annex site and wished to reapply for a demo permit.
Currently they have 122 stalls but the parkade would allow for a minimum of 275 stalls to exist and allow the building to remain viable.They believe that the proposed parkade will contribute to the ongoing vitality of the Exchange District National Historic Site. They are planning on finishing the development with a historic façade that will positively contribute to the streetscape. The owners have been encouraged by the Winnipeg Parking Authority and the Forks North Portage Partnership to build the parking structure to meet the demands of the downtown parking created by the growth of waterfront drive and the future Human Rights Museum. The structure would be able to access the skywalk system through the Grain Exchange Building is created on the site of the annex.
On January 16th 2009, The Historical Buildings Committee (HBC) recommended that the Grain Exchange Building Annex be placed on the BCL as a grade III with the following character defining elements:
- South facing office building located at Lombard, adjoining its parent Grain Exchange Building to the west via a second floor bridge.
- Simple elongated rectangular plan.
- South elevation with smoothly dressed limestone base with buff brick walls.
- Ample and grid-like arrangement of fenestration on the east façade.
- West, east, and north elevations with simple clay brick and modest detailing.[i]
On May 19th 2009, the Lord Selkirk – West Kildonan Community Committee disagreed with the HBC’s recommendation of placing the Annex on the (BCL) as a grade III listing.
On July 13th 2009 the Standing Policy Committee (SPC) on Property and Development (P&D) concurred in the recommendation of the Lord Selkirk – West Kildonan Community Committee with the following amendments namely:
- Grain exchange building annex at 153 Lombard Avenue not be placed on the BCL as a grade III.
- That no demo permits be issued for 153 Lombard Avenue prior to the issuance of building permits.
- That the construction of the proposed development shall be in conformance with the renderings submitted to the SPL on P&D.
- That the proper officers of the city be authorized to do all things necessary to implement the intent of the foregoing.[ii]
Ray Wan of Ray Wan Architects Inc. submitted two computer-generated images of the proposed development.
On July 15th 2009, the Executive Policy Committee (EPC) agreed with the SPC of P&D and the Lord Selkirk-West Kildonan CC to not add the Annex to the BCL.
On July 22nd 2009, City Council voted 9-6 in opposition of adding the Annex to the BCL, concurring with the EPC, the SPC on P&D and the Lord Selkirk – West Kildonan CC. Council adopted the SPC’s recommendations.