Guess who’s going to live Sky high?

SkyCity Centre just opened its sales centre on Garry St., and I couldn’t help myself but stop in for a peek! As many of you know, I love to shop downtown – so naturally, I left the sales centre with a 1 bedroom, 651 sq. ft. unit – oops!16964-FOR-SKY-Floorplan-Inserts_GARRY-(1)

The space has a 50 sq. ft. balcony, too – can’t wait to relax on one of my Eames chairs and take in the gorgeous view of downtown’s emerging skyline. What really sold me was the extensive list of amenities; there are 30,000 sq. ft. of them, all available exclusively to residents. The 8th floor features a gym, stretching room, hot tubs, a dog run and more. There’s2015September15__DIL0480
a movie theatre, huge lounge area and private dining room for dinner parties on the 45th floor. As the highest building in Winnipeg, this will be an amazing place to watch fireworks on Canada Day!

SkyCity Centre Winnipeg will be located at 245 Graham Ave. between Garry Street and Fort Street, just one block north of the new MTS Centre (home of the Winnipeg Jets), and flanked by a transit only street to the west. This iconic building will have a striking design created by award-winning Kirkor Architects and will become the postcard shot for downtown Winnipeg. The typical suites range from 529 sf to 1,003 sf, with larger combination suites available up to 1,600 sf. Units are now on sale and start from the $190s.

I’d love for you to be my neighbour! Visit for more information and to view the floorplans, standard suite features, artist’s renderings of common amenities and much more!2015September15__DIL0020

I’m going back to biking

I used to cycle every day to work, and then when we had a rainy spring, I started to slack a bit. I mean a lot. I got a stack of bus tickets and spent my commute in the cozy confines of the bus with my phone on playing Candy Crush, or even driving to work some days. But now that’s it’s gorgeously sunny out again, I really don’t have any excuse…and then two things happened the other day to get me off my couch.

One, I got to chatting with the super-fit @MsBehavior and @lindsayhamel on twitter about starting up a bike commuter school for people who want to try cycling downtown. (FYI, those two can get you excited about ANYTHING fitness related!) And two, someone sent me this video.

They reminded me of just how freeing commuting on a bike here can be. No, the bike lanes in Winnipeg aren’t perfect yet, and I make sure to wear a helmet – BUT I can change my plans or my route at the drop of a hat, and that’s pretty liberating. Answered one more email and stayed at the office too late? No worries, my bike didn’t leave without me, and I don’t have to refill the parking on the bike rack. York closed because of the RBC Convention Centre construction? Hop off my bike on the corner and walk along the sidewalk – maybe 30 seconds lost. Want to make a TGIF stop with a friend? Easy to make a detour. So as of yesterday, I’m back to biking.

Any fellow cycling commuters out there? Why do you ride to work? (or home, or out for fun?) And if you haven’t tried it yet, would you come out to bike commuter school?

The Avenue is back!

It’s been so long since I saw the Avenue Building looking so fresh and new, I almost can’t believe the day is finally here! Today was the official opening day for the new Avenue building, with offices on the main floor and apartments for 3 stories up.

I’ve gotten a sneak peek or two behind the scaffolding, but event that didn’t prepare me for what a major change there was to the main floor. I’m kind of glad they didn’t reveal it until now – it’s a big surprise!

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s what it looked like before…

…and what it looks like today:

 First thought? I wasn’t expecting the main floor to be so uber-modern, and I have to say I love the contrast with the more traditional brick on the upper floors! It’s a great mix of old and new coming together. I especially like the lit-up building name & address in the posts.

Second, the main floor is so OPEN. I think it’s so important to have buildings that feel like they interact with the street, not block it off, and the wide-open glass here does that. It adds life to the sidewalk when you can see happenings inside from outside, and vice versa. The balconies add to that too – the lucky people who manage to snag an apartment there are going to have a great view of the city!

What do you guys think about the new building design? To give you more food for thought, a mini-sneak peek of the press conference from the Winnipeg Free Press:

Mag Time

I’m excited to announce that the winter 2010/2011 issue of Downtown Winnipeg Magazine is now out!

Inside, you’ll find tons and tons of great gift ideas; fantastic comfort food recipes from some of your favourite restaurants; festive drink ideas; and of course, my favourite part, a guide to shopping for everyone on your list this holiday season courtesy of yours truly. (Check out page 32!)

The magazine hits Winnipeg Liquor Marts across the city today and is now available in the downtown walkway system holders. Also look for them in many of your favourite downtown businesses next week. And you can always get a copy by stopping by the Downtown BIZ office at 426 Portage Avenue.

You can check out a PDF version by clicking on the cover shot below. (That delicious looking hot chocolate and cake are from Dessert Sinsations on St. Mary Avenue. So divine!)

And there are a couple of things happening this weekend, I wanted to bring to your attention.

If you’re in the market for a new apartment, check out the following open houses that are coming up. (Take note of the awesome prizes up for grabs!)

Hargrave Place
33 Hargrave Street
Sunday, November 7, 1pm-4pm
All approved applicants that apply through the open house will have their names entered to win 1 of 3 $500 Best Buy gift cards.

Residence on York
160 Smith Street
Sunday, November 21, 1pm-4pm
All approved applicants that apply through the open house will have their names entered to win 1 of 3 Apple iPads.

And, here are some details on the United Way garage sale happening this weekend. Cool stuff, a good cause–you can’t go wrong!

Winnipeg’s (possibly Canada’s, maybe even the world’s) BIGGEST Garage Sale
Saturday, Nov 6, 8am–4pm, Winnipeg Convention Centre

Includes 50,000 sq feet of donated goods (including merchandise from Rona, Canadian Tire, etc.) for sale with proceeds going to the United Way of Winnipeg. Admission is $2, with kids 6 and under free.

Live and let live

This is going to be a short post today. I just wanted to bring to your attention a little slice of downtown life and let you know about an open house happening this weekend. The Fairchild Lofts on Princess Street will be opening their doors this Sunday from 1pm-3pm to show off five awesome suites ranging in size from a 911 sq ft 1-bedroom unit priced at $204,900 to a 1604 sq ft former display unit priced at $379,900.

The Fairchild Lofts were actually built in 1907 as the original John Deere headquarters (hey, that’s kind of cool). They were renovated in 2005 and now include a gym, outdoor patio with barbeque, outdoor parkade, and underground parking.

If you’ve ever dreamed about being in the heart of downtown, here’s your chance to see what it might be like. Imagine being able to walk to all kinds of fantastic restaurants, the theatre, the MTS Centre, and bars. You’ll never have to worry about cab fare again!

Fairchild Lofts
110 Princess Street
Open house: Sunday, October 24, 1-3pm

Goodbye Krystin

I just wanted to quickly update everyone on the last day Krystin spent living in the condo. Unfortunately, she had to bow out on Friday because she wasn’t feeling well, but I did manage to get her to come out to the LO Pub later in the day. I had to make sure her downtown living adventure ended on a high note.

If you haven’t sampled the LO Pub’s all-vegan menu, you are truly missing out. (And please don’t give me that garbage about how much you like meat. Good food is good food. Period. Try stepping out of your box once in a while. If you are open to vegan fare, then I’m sorry I just lashed out there. I just can’t stand it when people pull a face at something they haven’t even tried yet.) Anyway, we had vegan poutine which was as gooey and delicious as poutine should be. We also had chickpea fritters served with caramelized onions and fig jam. Totally outstanding. I think it might be one of my new favourite food items in downtown.

Krystin and I also headed to the Downtown Living Tour and Exhibition at Manitoba Hydro. We walked the booths and saw all the fascinating projects happening. We then headed to one of the open houses–youCUBE–and I verily fell head over heels in love with it.

It’s called a condo, but it’s about a million things more than that. youCUBE is actually 21 clustered townhouses. The one they had on display was four stories and is truly at the height of modernity and uber-cool design. Brought to life by the very hip crew at 5468796 Architechture, you really have to see it to get it. (I know people say that kind of thing all the time, but this really is remarkable.) What a boon to Winnipeg to have this visionary group of architects creating these works of art transformed into function. These guys (and gal) were also behind the new Old Market Square stage, as well a couple other future condo developments in Central Park and the West End. They’ll also be putting their mark on the new Avenue Building development. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Apart from the  design and cool factor, the condo also has an enormous rooftop terrace that looks out onto the river and will eventually have a spectacular view of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  If I’d had been one of those fortunate $50 million lottery winners on the weekend, I would have bought that youCUBE condo right then and there. To the lucky person who gets to call that place home, I beg you to invite me over some time.

After Krystin and I finished drooling over youCUBE, we decided to go for a walk along the Waterfront. It was lush and green and it amazed me to realize just how much that area has changed in a few short years. When I hear negative things about why people would never live downtown, I’d truly defy them to walk around this area and still say that. Krystin said she would have to agree. What she discovered during her week in downtown is just how exciting, and dare we even say inspiring, it is to be in the heart of the city.

Being here, she learned so much more about the city she calls her home. She enjoyed music, food and shopping in a more intimate and convenient way than ever before and she met hundreds of friendly faces and even made some new friends. Sure, we’ve got a long way to go yet, but downtown is turning a corner and in a few years, you’re going to want a YouCube condo too.

Day 3: 15 minutes of fame

I know I’m not imagining the buzz Krystin is starting to create. I was walking through Portage Place and heard someone exclaim to another someone about the girl living upstairs. Krystin has been mentioned a few times in the world of Twitter–even with the promise of French fries. She’s been offered meals, wine, coffee and even a marriage proposal. (OK, I made that last one up, but given the number of admirers she seems to have, I figure it’s only a matter of time.)

Krystin and I headed to Air Canada Park at lunch time for the Crooked Brothers concert yesterday, and she told me she’s really starting to love her condo and isn’t going to want to leave at the end of the week. One of the things she really loves about the experience are the regulars that walk past her little home everyday. She said it really feels like a community. I think she’s hit on another one of those advantages of living in the city. Time and time again I talk to people who’ve moved downtown and say they now know their neighbours–something they never experienced living in their detached homes in the suburbs.

And for those who say downtown isn’t safe–Krystin is a young woman, living alone in a shopping mall, and has yet to encounter anything even bordering on alarming. Even with her whole life exposed to the thousands of people walking by, she says she feels perfectly safe. So there.

Anyway, last night we hit up the Winnipeg Jazz Festival and went to see Sonny Rollins at the Pantages Theatre. It was a quite an evening–particularly when the legendary musician received a standing ovation from the crowd, even before he started playing. He stuck to the traditional stuff, combining the soothing sounds of his sax with the mellowness of the room. The Jazz Festival runs all next week and they’ve got a ton of great stuff happening.

We were both feeling very good afterward, so we headed for a quick drink on the patio at Tavern United. I’d defy anyone not to fall in love with downtown enjoying a cool glass of white wine with a the gentle breeze on the patio and the city buzzing stories below. It was a beautiful night.

Today I’m going to try and convince Krystin to come to Yoga in Park with me. She swears she would have no idea what she’s doing, but I’ve assured her the instructors cater to all levels of yogi, be they unbendable neophyte or pretzel-twisting guru. (See? Another thing you can’t get anywhere else in the city. Free yoga in a beautiful park beneath a warming summer sun. What’s not to love?)

And don’t forget the Downtown Living Tour & Exhibition starts tomorrow as well. It runs 11am-2pm in the Manitoba Hydro building atrium. Sign up for the noon-hour mini-tour, design for the downtown worker.

Krystin will be spending her final day in the condo tomorrow, so if you haven’t gone to visit her yet, don’t dawdle! Make sure you wave at her. She likes that.

Day 2: Settling In

I think Krystin is starting to feel right at home in her beautiful condo now. I went to visit her yesterday afternoon to find her watching Avatar (purchased at HMV on the main floor of Portage Place) on her new DVD player and munching on popcorn. She’s been offered coffee, lunch and dinner several times by the friendly people frequenting the downtown walkway system. I actually think I’m going to have a hard time getting her out of there!

Being in there with her didn’t feel as conspicuous as I thought it would be. People seem genuinely interested in what she’s doing there, and the curious looks of those walking by is definitely entertaining. A lot of people wave, a lot of people shout things through the glass, and most just walk slowly by, wondering what’s going on. Krystin was actually riding the bus yesterday and someone recognized her as well. Who knew her 15 minutes of fame would come in such a strange package?

Last night we decided to keep it low-key and headed to the Ground Floor Urban Diner at the Place Louis Riel. This unassuming little restaurant has been getting the attention of Winnipeg’s foodie scene since it opened, and it’s easy to see why. The dining room has been simply decorated with clean lines and dark woods, contrasted with bright colourful art commissioned specially for the restaurant. They do good old fashioned comfort food with care and attention to fresh ingredients combined with dashes of creativity.

I had the burger with blue cheese topping. Juicy and flavourful, the housemade chili and dijon aioli on top, made it truly special. Krystin sampled the Philly cheesteak, which came on fresh bread and was oozing with umami (it’s the sixth sense, look it up). The fresh cut fries are a deep golden and next time, I’m trying the sweet potato version that comes with jalapeno aioli.

Open for lunch as well, they also do themed days like taco Tuesday and chili dog Thursday which are very popular. You should go. Like right now. Who cares if it’s only 10am? It’s lunch time somewhere.

Anyway, Krystin will be back in her condo at 10am as usual. Today, I’m doing things a little differently and taking her to see a free noon-hour concert in Air Canada Park. The Crooked Brothers are playing as part of the Downtown BIZ’s Out to Lunch summer concert series. They happen every Wednesday at noon at various locations. Find out more by clicking here.

I thought it was important Krystin see this concert, because this is what living downtown is all about isn’t it? She’s got an amazing view of Portage Avenue from her perch,  she’s surrounded by good places to eat, and she’s in the only place in the city where free concerts and all sorts of other entertainment happen constantly.

Life becomes so much richer when you’re in the middle of it all.

Day 1: Ah… the spa

So Krystin’s first day of living in Portage Place is behind us, and she said it was a pretty fun day. There were a lot of quizzical looks from passersby, including people tapping on the glass. I guess it’s hard not to feel a little like a zoo animal in this situation. (Note to self: put those ‘please don’t tap the glass’ signs up if I ever do this again.)

People also asked her where she went to the bathroom. Dear people of Winnipeg, isn’t that a little personal of a question to ask a lady you’ve never met before? I guess all notion of privacy went out the window with this little experiment.

Anyway, she survived her first day in style and since I thought it could be a bit taxing, our first evening adventure found us at Ten Spa in the Hotel Fort Garry. This is easily one of the best spas I’ve been to anywhere. It is so luxurious and decadent–I can’t get enough of it. From the beautiful dark wood, to the enormous white couches to the pretty little bottles of water adorned with pale blue labels, everything is attended to.

It’s worth a trip just for the change rooms alone. Inside aromatherapy showers, a private sauna and showers that make you feel like you’re standing beneath a spring rain, all put you in a state of tranquility even before you don your plush robe and slippers. In the waiting area, a buffet of treats tantalizes with addictive, perfectly-salted flat breads, cubes of cheese, and a make your own sushi station. You can also order wine and champagne (which we did of course).

My favourite place to sit is in one of two large round couches surrounded by a gauzy white curtain, with a sparkling chandelier hanging above you. One can’t help but feel like a princess in some middle eastern caravan. Arrive well before your treatment, so you have time to hang out. A trip to Ten Spa is about so much more than just the treatment you’re getting. Speaking of which, we each indulged in a massage, and it was pure bliss.

After your treatment, you have the option of being escorted to a quiet room, with even more big white couches, where speaking too loudly would be akin to stripping down naked in the middle of your office. (In other words, it just isn’t done.) As you bask in the glow of your own indulgence, peace settles over you. Ahh…

Krystin is heading back to her apartment in about an hour, so make sure to stop by and visit her. She’s in the east walkway between Hydro and Portage Place. And be sure to visit, to learn all about the Downtown Living Tour & Exhibition happening this Friday and Saturday.

She’s living where?

So today is kind of exciting for me. My friend Krystin has agreed to move downtown for a week, but she’s not living in just any old apartment–she’s moving into Portage Place mall!

I know, it sounds a little crazy doesn’t it? (I suppose it kind of  is actually.) But I’m a huge supporter of downtown living and I’m always trying to get people to see the benefits. You’re so close to everything here. You can walk to the city’s best restaurants, all of Winnipeg’s entertainment venues, The Forks, the Ledge grounds, parks, shops and so much more. Plus, a bus ride from downtown to anywhere else in the city is infinitely easier to accomplish than when you’re trying to move between burbs. Transit was designed for the downtown denizen.

The Bay helped me furnish a space in the east walkway attached to Portage Place, between the mall and Manitoba Hydro. Krystin will be moving in at 10am this morning and will be there until the end of the week. You can come see her between 10am-5pm, Monday to Friday. In the evenings, I’m going to be taking her out on the town to show her all that downtown living has to offer.

At the end of the week, you can see all that it has to offer as well at the Downtown Living Tour and Exhibition happening on Friday and Saturday. Inside the Manitoba Hydro atrium, there will be an exhibition showing off upcoming developments, downtown services and events. There is also a huge open house happening all around downtown where you can get a peek at what’s available in downtown. Visit here to learn more.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be an exciting week.