Bowman's inner circle approves $6.5M grant to help build SkyCity tower

Mayor Brian Bowman's inner circle has approved a $6.5-million grant that would help Winnipeg's tallest building rise above Graham Avenue​.

In September, city property officials proposed to offer Richmond Hill, Ont., developer Fortress financial assistance to build SkyCity Centre, a 44-storey, $200-million tower proposed for the surface parking lot north of Winnipeg's police headquarters.

That offer was made after Fortress informed the city it could not meet the construction deadlines of a downtown-housing incentive program that would have made SkyCity eligible for $6.5 million from the city and $8 million from the province.

The old program offered up the money as soon as the building was complete. The new grant offers Fortress $6.5 million over 10 years in the form of an economic incentive grant.

Fortress initially balked at the new grant because of the payout over 10 years, city property officials said. But the company is now OK with the plan because it has secured a new development partner in Edenshaw Developments, said planning, property and development director John Kiernan.

"They had some concerns, originally, about nine months ago, about it not being a lump-sum payment," Kiernan said. "In fact, they get more money over a 10-year period by amortizing it out."

Executive policy committee voted 6-1 to approve the grant. It still needs to be approved by council next week.

St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes voted against the grant because he said he's concerned city planners are mistaken in their contention infill development in downtown Winnipeg comes with fewer costs than developments in other areas of the city.

"Frankly, there's some people in the department who seem to want to demonize the suburbs," Mayes said.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said he will meet with Mayes to attempt to understand his concerns.