Heritage status a threat to plans for Somerset Building, says developer


A major downtown development may have hit a roadblock at Winnipeg City Hall over a debate about the building’s historical status.

Canad Inns says it bought the Somerset Building on Portage Avenue in 2018.

Owner Leo Ledohowski says his company is planning on connecting the building with the Radisson next door and The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre around the corner.

He says the $150-million project, known as Canad Place, may include new retail, restaurants and hotel rooms in the Somerset Building, as well as upgrades to the Radisson.

“Might have the biggest hotel in the city,” said Ledohowski.

But Ledohowski says a potential historical designation, which could put restrictions on development, is threatening his plans.

“Every time you do something somebody can say no, or you can’t do this or you can’t use these materials,” said Ledohowski.

He says the building is old but does not deserve the special status.

The city’s historical buildings committee wants the Somerset’s facades, some windows and interior staircases protected.

In a report it says the nine-store, century-old building is made of brick with “stone accenting on a reinforced concrete structural system, representative of contemporary construction methods” and is “highly conspicuous” in downtown.

The city’s property committee was split on the issue, two councillors rejected the designation, the other two voted to designate some of the recommended elements.

The matter moves up the chain in city hall with no recommendation, with council having the final say.