Temporary transformation brings vacant lot to life
Published Saturday, June 4, 2016 6:06PM CST
Downtown proponents hope the temporary transformation of a vacant lot on Portage Avenue is a sign of things to come.
The site was once known as Jellybean Park and at one time it was a parking lot.
These days it normally sits empty but on Saturday afternoon organizers of an outdoor concert spearheaded the conversion of the space into an urban attraction.
If you’ve ever passed the vacant lot on Portage Avenue in between Edmonton and Kennedy Street you may have noticed the vines on the painted, east-facing wall.
The area got a facelift with the addition of a stage, bar and 500 milk crates to help create the space-themed pop-up party called SpaceLand.
A company called Head In The Sand teamed up with Manitoba Music to host the one-day party.
Inspired by lot parties thrown in Austin, TX, organizers said their show highlights endless possibilities for downtown Winnipeg.
“We would love for there to be more outdoor, public spaces or just spaces that are used in this way on an ongoing basis,” said Manitoba Music’s executive director Sean McManus.
The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ helped sponsor SpaceLand through its Host It Downtown program and wants to see more events taking ever vacant lots and surface parking lots downtown.
“People don’t come downtown to park,” said managing director Jason Syvixay. “That’s always a secondary consideration. People want to come downtown to a Jets game, they want to come down to a concert.”
“We’re excited these types of spaces can be activated.”
Renate Hiller doesn’t mind the idea but doesn’t want to see the number of parking spots downtown reduced.
“We need more parking spaces,” said Hiller. “I find I’ve left my car at home and taken the bus because by the time I find parking I’m walking three, four blocks.”
University of Winnipeg Urban Studies professor Jino Distasio said difficulty finding parking is a sign of a vibrant downtown.
“I think Winnipeggers should be somewhat happy in a crazy way to say I can’t a spot,” said Distasio. “To me, that indicates something’s going on because there are tens of thousands of parking spots in downtown Winnipeg.”
According to the Downtown BIZ, 40 per cent of land downtown is allocated for parking; surface parking lots account for 20 per cent of land downtown.
The BIZ acknowledges there’s a need for parking but prefers to see parking spaces included in mixed-use developments in built-in parkades.