What should go in the Bay?

I think this is one of the big downtown questions right now, don’t you?

Change is part of what makes downtown great, in my humble blogger opinion. I like that there are new stores and new restaurants to visit – but of course, sometimes it means that something old has to go so something wonderful and new can grow. It’s sad, but it’s an opportunity too – if the Chocolate Shop restaurant hadn’t closed, for example, we wouldn’t have the incredible Arkadash bistro downtown.

A whole lot’s been appearing in the papers in the last couple of days about The Bay Downtown – the Target takeover means the Zellers downstairs is closing, so there’s more space open downstairs as well as some open upper floors. I’m sad they’re closing, but that also means there’s a big opportunity to think about what should go there. Is it office space, more space for the University of Winnipeg, something else entirely?

Some people think it should be renewed retail –

incentives are provided for manufacturers to locate in Manitoba and create employment opportunities. Why not a retail department store? Particularly when the property in question is a historic building that all would agree is an irreplaceable landmark in the urban centre.

The May 1 Globe and Mail reported the Bay is considering the concept of “a store within a store.” More specifically, the Bay might invite Bloomingdale’s (an upscale U.S. department store owned by Macy’s) to operate within HBC department stores in Canada.

I have no doubt this concept is under consideration for the downtown stores in Toronto, Vancouver and, perhaps, Calgary.

– Charles Huband, “The Bay is key to downtown renewal,” Winnipeg Free Press May 2012

Comments in the most recent article have lots of ideas, like mixed use. One of the most popular comments:

Grocery and pharmacy in the basement, retail on the main and second floors, condo’s and or offices on 3, 4 and 5, restaurant(s) with roof top patio on the 6th.

– Robert4

Now, don’t have the perfect answer – although I have to admit I like both the above ideas! – but I think it’s one of the most amazing buildings in the city, and finding the right fit for it could lead to some amazing things. So what do you think? What do YOU want to see sharing space with the Bay downtown?

8 thoughts on “What should go in the Bay?

  1. Grocery in basement and apartments in upper floors. Whatever it is, could we try to make it affordable. Not everyone living downtown can afford to shop at The Bay, nevermind at Bloomingdales.

  2. The building should be a multi-retail destination with The Bay as the anchor store. Throw in a few clothing, electronics and grocery stores in the mix. That way, people living downtown won’t have far to go shop.

  3. HBC is such a Canadian thing, even if it is no longer owned by Canadians. We should try to get some home-grown retail stores into the building!

  4. I like Andy (and other’s) idea of a grocery store in the basement and apartments on the top. But I love Lis’ suggestions of a Whole Foods store. I would ride my bike miles to get there (not that I’d need to). 🙂

  5. Downtown is a changing, that’s for sure. There is room for many, many new ideas and concepts. We need some increased incentive program to help businesses relocate to the Downtown, maybe a set of new concept stores, set up within the Bay. Downtown continually takes the heat for any crime in the 5 km radius, it’s needs more honest direct and proactive reporting. Maybe a central office for crime reduction or security section dealing with just the downtown area, on one of the floors.
    We are fast moving into a food desert situation , one that will be quite detrimental to enticing anyone from moving downtown. We need a large chain to move in, keep the prices reasonable and the selection large, a sure winner for the Downtown area, and a perfect fit for the space available within the store basement.

  6. I love having the grocery store there and I really think it’s needed in the area – also, it has been there such a short time, it would be a waste to get rid of it. I also think losing The Bay will leave a big hole in retail – if we want people to come downtown, there have to decent stores at which to shop. A popular, big box fashion store like H&M would be perfect for that building! Or Zara. As neither of those stores exist anywhere else in Wpg right now, people would have to come downtown to shop there – and believe me, they would! (Also, H&M is very reasonable, price-wise.) There are a lot of students and young adults studying and working downtown who would keep it busy.

  7. Grocery, please! Zellers was great in that it offered expanded grocery options, improved prices, and was the one of the only places to buy a whole host of practical, household items downtown — but if its short-lived presence in the Bay building means a grocery store at that location is lost forever, I will curse Zellers for ever bothering to stick its toe downtown.
    The new grocery store should also have longer hours than the Bay, please (made possible by the separate entrance created by Zellers).

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