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True North wants six month extension to decide on sale of Portage Place Mall

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True North’s real estate wing is asking for a six-month extension on a plan to buy and redevelop Portage Place Mall.

The organization had until the end of the year to purchase the mall’s assets, following community consultation and its own analysis.

The city, province and federal government are all shareholders in the North Portage Development Corporation (NPDC) which currently owns the land, parkade and air rights. A private company owns the building.

A report to the Mayor’s Executive Policy Committee (EPC) is recommending council approve a six-month extension request from the NPDC. The report says this is needed so True North can continue its due diligence, which includes further consultation.

"Projects of this order of magnitude and as significant as this just require ongoing alignment between all parties involved – private sector, public sector," said Jim Ludlow, president of True North Real Estate Development.

"We want to ensure that what we're hearing can form part of what we're doing, and that takes time."

In a statement to CTV News, True North says a second phase of public consultation is set to begin in December as it needs the extra time to ensure its vision, which includes housing, health care and community services, will serve the needs of the community and be successful.

“True North Real Estate Development further continues to advance dialogue with its key partners and consultants, both public and private, with the intention of pursuing this vision to its successful completion and remains optimistic that this can be achieved within the extended time period," the statement reads.

The statement also says discussions about complementary programming opportunities with The Bay building project being redeveloped by the Southern Chiefs Organization is “evolving.”

The EPC report says public feedback so far has leaned heavy towards the project including a grocery store, affordable housing and keeping the Prairie Theatre Exchange.

In its statement True North says it is committed to improving the “urban health” of Winnipeg’s Downtown.

The report to EPC also says the province and the federal government have not yet approved the six-month extension.

Liberal MP Dan Vandal’s office tells CTV News the federal minister just received the request this morning. He said the minister is reviewing the ask and will have a decision in the coming days.

Both the mayor and Manitoba's Premier said they are in favour of extending the deadline.

"This is a very big project, very important for Winnipeg's Downtown," Mayor Scott Gillingham said.

The option agreement includes a sale price of at least $34.5 million. In May, True North unveiled a $500 million plan which included two towers on each end of the property, one for housing students and families, the other for health-care services like primary care, a walk in clinic, and addictions treatment.

A previous plan to sell the mall and the assets to Starlight Developments fell through in 2021.

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