Granola Heights is not a new name for a bowl of cereal, but rather a five-storey multifamily residential development that will look out over the West Broadway neighbourhood in Winnipeg.
The unusual moniker is a tongue in cheek reference to a next-door residential neighbourhood that is full of old wood frame houses, old trees and new bike paths. It is sometimes called the Granola Belt by Winnipeggers who live outside the area.
The affordable housing project, which is located at 198 Sherbrook Street, near the corner of Broadway, is designed by Monteyne Architecture Works Inc.
“When completed, Granola Heights will have 28 apartments – 24 two-bedroom apartments and four one-bedroom,” said Tom Monteyne, founder and principal of the company. “On the ground floor there will be 2,400 square feet available for commercial development, enough for three units. And there’s parking at grade off the back lane.”
In an unusual feature for a project in Winnipeg, Granola Heights will have mass timber floors.
“The floors will be made of nail-laminated timber,” said Monteyne. “They work well in an apartment building like this one.”
The building has a splayed design, wider on the north side and narrower on the south side, which allows each apartment to receive sunlight.
Granola Heights is set back from the sidewalk along Sherbrook Street, which increases the space for the public to meet and mingle. Monteyne plans to install a number of outdoor tables there.
“Our office is on Sherbrook, so I was very familiar with the property, because it’s right next door (194 Sherbrook),” said Monteyne. “The site had been vacant for a long time. It was owned by a neighbourhood non-profit group that tried to develop it, but it was unsuccessful.”
After doing some research and discovering there’s a healthy demand for rental apartments in Winnipeg, Monteyne decided to develop the site himself.
“We’re more interested in urban infills than we are in greenfield projects in the suburbs,” he said.
Monteyne believes there’s a bright future in Winnipeg for mixed-use commercial buildings like Granola Heights.
“They’re healthy for cities because they bring people with their eyes on the street to the area,” he said. “It is an old idea, but it still makes a lot of sense,”
Monteyne said Granola Heights is a calling card for his firm.
“It’s a piece of urban design that adds to the city,” he said. “We want to do more projects like it in the future.”
Granola Heights is being built by Bobsled Construction Ltd., which is co-owned by Monteyne Architecture.
Construction began in summer 2022.
According to Bobsled operations manager James Melendez, as of the beginning of March the building envelope was almost finished, mechanical and electrical roughing-in was on-going and the drywall has been started.
Despite some supply chain challenges that were caused by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, said Melendez, the project has gone quite smoothly, thanks to the Monteyne-Bobsled integrated design process that kept construction on-time and on-budget.
“Takeover of the building is slated for the end of August 2023,” said Melendez.
Granola Heights is co-owned by Monteyne Architects, Bobsled and Alston Properties Ltd. It will be managed by Alston.
Eric Napier Strong, executive director of the West Broadway BIZ (Business Improvement Zone), said Granola Heights is a good fit in the neighbourhood.
“It’s affordable housing and a good example of how new development doesn’t always have to mean gentrification,” said Napier Strong. “Building new homes for people doesn’t always have to mean displacing existing community members.”
He also likes Granola Heights’ wing-shaped design, “especially in the way it’s set back from the sidewalk, which creates plenty of room for public space.”
Napier Strong said West Broadway is a mix of residential and small commercial businesses that makes it what he calls a transitional neighbourhood.
“It’s just west of downtown Winnipeg, with lots of old houses and apartment buildings that are lived in by many university students and low-income people,” he said.
The neighbourhood had been in the developmental doldrums for years, but there have been more new projects there recently, especially along the main traffic arteries.
“There is lots of new construction taking place in West Broadway,” said Napier Strong. “The pandemic had slowed it down, but it’s starting to pick up again. And many of the new developments have commercial businesses on the ground floor and residential units above, like Granola Heights.”