Six creative options for the bridge plaza
January 20, 2013 **
I never thought placing a Salisbury House on the Esplanade Riel was a great idea. Nothing against the restaurant chain, which serves reasonable food at a reasonable price, but the idea always seemed terribly uninspired.
After all, there was nothing “reasonable” about building a restaurant plaza in the middle of a bridge in the first place. It was a bold, expensive gambit to create a unique attraction for our city, and filling the space with another outlet of an ordinary restaurant chain didn’t come close to achieving that goal.
And while a reasonable argument could be made that the plaza never should have been built, reality is that it exists now, and with the Salisbury House lease ending, the city has an opportunity to pursue more creative ideas.
So with that in mind, let’s explore a couple of options:
*1. Pop-up retail/restaurant.* Winnipeg has been typically slow to adopt the worldwide trend of pop-up commercial spaces. However, a group of entrepreneurs will soon open a pop-up restaurant along the river trail, and if all goes well then that could spark new opportunities. Having a flexible space on the bridge available for short-term rent could help get more ideas off the ground, whether it’s seasonal food concepts, art exhibits or even major retailers who want to test the Winnipeg market (like what Lululemon recently did with its pop-up retail store in Regina).
*2. Urban cycling centre.* Inspired by the Midtown Bike Center in Minneapolis (which has the exact same square footage), the bridge plaza could be converted into an all-purpose bike retail/rental/repair/storage outlet that could serve as a hub for community outreach activities for the city’s cycling community. And as an added bonus, the lack of an adjacent parking lot isn’t a concern for this group.
*3. Ice cream/burger mecca.* For decades, Winnipeggers have been lining up at the BDI and Sargent Sundae for a chance to buy ice cream and walk across a bridge. Combine that idea with some classic White Top/Mrs. Mike’s/VJ’s-style burgers, and you’re guaranteed success … for at least six months of the year.
*4. Event centre.* Given its unique location, it’s easy to imagine the bridge as a French-Canadian-themed bar during Festival du Voyageur, a venue with a view for Folklorama, a spot for swanky cocktail parties during fireworks shows at The Forks, or even a cool site for wedding photos and small receptions.
*5. French restaurant.* The original idea when the bridge plaza was built a decade ago was for it to become a bistro or creperie that provides a culinary complement to the bridge’s physical connection between downtown and St. Boniface.
Maybe now the city would be willing to provide more of an economic incentive (free rent? no business taxes?) to make it happen.
*6. Winnipeg Jets… something.* I don’t even have an idea here, but put the logo of our most recognized team on our most recognized piece of architecture, and it’s certain to draw a crowd at any time during the year. News Worth Sharing: http://metronews.ca/author/cfast/By Colin Fasthttp://metronews.ca/author/cfast/ Metro Winnipeg Connect with Colin