As anyone who has driven down Henderson Highway will know, there are large stretches of retail development that delineate the generally porous and ill-defined boundary between that major thoroughfare and the adjacent residential neighborhoods. For the most part they are decidedly un-urban and context-less buildings, often set back behind surface parking and frugal landscaping, divorced from our experience of the neighborhood. With the opening of the Henderson Business Centre (HBC) on August 24, LMAG and the owner Crystal Properties Ltd. together with Crystal Developers Ltd. hope to show by example that viable speculative development need not be without a little soul.
The three storey, 30,000, square foot project located at 755 Henderson Highway caters to both the commercial/retail and business/professional services market sectors. Divided into two distinct wings separated by an atrium, the building looks to create a variety of different leasing options for prospective tenants ranging from 1,000 square feet to 4,800 square feet.
There’s a lot more to this story, though.
The main level accommodates retail, hospitality or personal service businesses, while a large landscaped terrace at the entrance attracts food and beverage operators. The terrace leads directly to the main entry atrium, where a walled, landscaped garden greets the visitor. The second and third floors, designated for business or professional service office spaces, feature spacious interiors, floor to ceiling curtain wall and windows, generous floor to floor heights, and self-contained mechanical and electrical systems.
Most readers will be familiar – perhaps even a little sadly – with the typology of the strip mall. Perhaps the HBC’s most notable achievement is its ability to differentiate itself from the very notion of strip mall that is so ubiquitously illustrated across the Winnipeg landscape while still remaining, ultimately, an attractive leasing opportunity. Economically and responsibly detailed without sacrificing its character, the building presents a strong urban edge, defining with plazas, fencing, sidewalks and planting a variety of different visual, spatial, and experiential conditions along the street itself. It’s of a scale that can be registered while driving by, clearly expressed and not easily lost, a filter to the finer filigree of residential streets and homes behind. It’s a strip mall perhaps not quite on steroids but rather mature and fully grown, confident and forward looking.
By setting such a precedent, perhaps the HBC will precipitate future development that is likewise conscious of its role within both neighborhood and city – a message to its anemic and dis-interested retail cousins that there is value in differentiation.
This news item was featured in our December 2015 eNewsletter along with:
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