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What is to be done with the White Building Behind Gray Academy-139 Tuxedo--Asper Campus short on Rent?

by Rhonda Spivak, May 30, 2013

The Winnipeg Jewish Review has learned that the older white building behind the Gray Academy which was being used by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is structurally and environmentally unsafe. 
"The building is a tear down," Ben Cohen, President of the Asper Campus told the WJR.
The current occupants of 139 Tuxedo are leaving in June to be re-located on Broadway.
The property, which is valuable, belongs to the Asper Campus and as a result of the new situation community leaders will begin consultations as to what to do with it.

"It is part and parcel of the land that forms the Asper Campus", Cohen noted. Cohen who is a former President of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, and also actively involved in discussions between the Rady JCC, the Federation and the Herzlia synagogue regarding renovation of the Herzlia synagogue to accommodate the need in the community for daycare.
Sources tell the Winnipeg Jewish Review that  there are a number of possibilities for a new project on the property. For example, a free-standing new daycare could be built.  Another possibility is that it could be used for the needs of seniors, for assisted living.
Apparently, there was even some discussion a number of years ago of building a synagogue on the property. It remains to be seen whether that idea is still alive.

But as Bob Freedman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg told the WJR, "Redevelopment of the site will be needed to generate  revenue for the Asper Campus. Up to now they have been receiving rent [as  the landlord of the building]. It's been a significant revenue stream for them."

"Ben [Cohen]  and the Asper Campus Board are committed to having appropriate consultation before deciding how to redevelop the site," Freedman says.

Freedman noted that the site will need to be redeveloped in a way that  "conforms to zoning and generates appropriate revenue for the community."

When asked about the history of the  white building, Freedman proved to have encyclopedic knowledge of the subject.

"139 Tuxedo was developed originally as Western Canada's First Agricultural College (a pre-curser to the University of Manitoba).

It then became Western Canada's first school for the Deaf. Following that it was a Convalescence facility for  military men who returned from World War l. During the World War ll period, it became part of the Canadian military's Fort Osborne Barracks. It was used as a drill hall. Then in 1960 the site was taken over by the Province," he said.

When the Jewish community bought the site, the building was not designated as a heritage site.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.