True North moves one step closer to buying Winnipeg’s Portage Place mall

The real-estate wing of the company that owns the Winnipeg Jets is one step closer to buying Portage Place mall.

City council’s executive policy committee voted unanimously on Monday to allow The Forks North Portage Partnership to grant True North Real Estate Development an option to purchase the land attached to the downtown Winnipeg mall.

The real estate division of True North Sports and Entertainment has a deal with Vancouver’s Peterson Group to obtain an option to purchase mall itself and redevelop it into a mixed-use building. True North Real Estate Development says the sale price for the mall will not be made public.

True North also obtained federal and provincial approval for an option to obtain the land attached to the mall — including the parkade below the mall and the air rights for construction above — from the Forks North Portage Partnership for no less than $34.5 million.

Given that all three levels of government oversee The Forks, True North also needs city council’s approval of the plan to acquire the Portage Place land, parkade and air rights.

The purchase option requires True North to conduct community consultations about the redevelopment of the mall, and to keep the skywalks connecting the mall to the rest of downtown open from 7 a.m. to midnight.

A previous proposal from Toronto’s Starlight Investments to buy Portage Place fell apart amid repeated requests for public funds.

Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said he opposed the Starlight proposal on the basis of the escalating financial demands from the private developer.

Mayes said he finds the True North proposal more transparent and less rushed.

The True North purchase option also faces approval from council as a whole on March 23. Even if that passes, a final purchase proposal would come back in front of council later this year, Winnipeg chief administrative officer Michael Jack told EPC.