Tuesday, March 14, 2017

555 Ellice Avenue - Ellice Place

555 Ellice Avenue today
Place: Ellice Place
Address: 555 Ellice Avenue (Map)
Contractor: William Dyck and Sons Ltd.

Ellice Place was built in 1979 - 80 for the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation, (MHRC). The site was assembled using a number of properties, most of which were made vacant by fire.

Haselmere Apartments Fire
January 18, 1974, Winnipeg Tribune

One was the site of the Haselmere Apartments at 559 Ellice. The block burned to the ground in January 1974 killing nine people and remains Winnipeg's second deadliest fire.

Lorraine Apartments Fire
Top: January 12, 1977, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: January 13, 1977, Winnipeg Tribune

Three years later, almost to the day, the Lorraine Apartments at number 543 Ellice, east of McMicken, also burned to the ground. Nobody was killed, though nine firemen were injured, four when a wall collapsed on them.

Both fires were due to arson.

November 4, 1978, Winnipeg Free Press

After the Lorraine Apartments fire, the MHRC purchased the vacant lots and in September 1977 went before the city to ask for a number of zoning variances, as what they were proposing was too large for the lot under existing rules.

They were seeking to build up to 125 units as well as obtain the air rights above McMicken Street so that a "corridor" could be built between the two sections of the development.
The variances were approved with the city imposing an eight storey height restriction on the project.

In November 1978,  the MHRC called for offers of development for the project. They chose an eight-storey, 122 suite design. Of those, 31 units would be dedicated to families and 72 for seniors. It also contained 1,500 square feet of retail space on the main floor.

February 15, 1979, Winnipeg Free Press

The project was formally announced in February, 1979 by Manitoba Housing minister J. Frank Johnston. It was one of five major projects around the province to be built that year.

The construction cost for the building was estimated to be $2.9 million and the contractor was William Dyck and Sons Ltd. The architect is unknown.

By December 1980, residents were living at 555 Ellice, though it is unclear when the formal opening took place.

One unique aspect of the building is that the "corridors" grew in width to include utility  areas and a multi-purpose room. This leaves a short tunnel at the end of McMicken Street at Ellice Avenue.

In November 2015 the provincial government announced that the building would received an $11 million renovation and would reopen as an 118 unit social housing and assisted living residence for seniors.

The reopening took place on March 13, 2017.

For more information about the new Ellice Place.

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