Monday, August 16, 2021

440 Edmonton Street - Parkview Place / Central Park Lodge

 © 2021, Christian Cassidy

Place: Central Park Lodge (renamed Parkview Place ca. 2007)
Address: 440 Edmonton Street
Opened: October 1, 1964
Architect: Alan Waisman of Waisman Ross

Note: The owners of Parkview Place announced that they will close the seniors’ home overlooking Central Park after controversies about its condition and level of care during the COVID outbreak of 2020. Here’s a look back at the history of what was originally called Central Park Lodge.

An early view of Central Park (source)

The post-war residential development of Winnipeg’s suburbs brought about a rapid decline in the fortunes of many core area neighbourhoods as middle-class families vacated the area. The demand for these large, family homes and luxury apartments plummeted as did their value. In many cases, investors bought them for a fraction of their worth and subdivided them into smaller units or rooming houses. 

The Central Park neighbourhood was one of the hardest hit and by 1960 was a shadow of its former self. When the large-scale, inner city redevelopment schemes tried in the U.S. and Eastern Canada reached Winnipeg in the early 1960s, the Central Park neighbourhood was a perfect place for developers to start.

Three large projects were announced in 1963 by a development consortium called Central Park Enterprises Ltd. that had a 15-year, $25 million plan to turn Winnipeg's Central Park into a major urban attraction.

First to get underway was the 21-storey Regency Towers, (now called 411 Cumberland), thought to be the largest apartment block in Canada when it was first proposed. Next was the 13-storey "retirement hotel" called Central Park Lodge on Edmonton Street. A planned 110-room hotel at Cumberland and Balmoral to be operated by Ramada Inns did not materialize.

Under construction in December 1963. (Tribune Photo Archives)

Designed by local architect Alan Waisman of Waisman Ross, Central Park Lodge's 12 residential floors held about 250 suites or 285 residents. On the main floor was a dining hall, recreation facility, physiotherapy room, and a nursing station.

The retirement hotel model provided small, fully furnished, rooms for rent with a central kitchenette and lounge on each floor. Residents could choose between "ultra modern French Provincial" or Swedish furniture for their surroundings.

Rents started at $195 per month going up to $285 for "deluxe suites" on the top two floors. The rent included meals, daily maid service, laundry service, and minor nursing care. The all-inclusive rates were not cheap and meant to attract middle-class seniors.

Walter Steininger in 1969, (U of M Digital Collections)

The concept of the retirement hotel was that of Walter Steininger, the former head of geriatric care for the Saskatchewan government. He saw that all of the housing being built for seniors or the disabled at the time was geared to lower income individuals, (universal funding for seniors / nursing home care did not come into effect until July 1, 1973.)

This meant that those in the middle class had to stay in their homes or move to older apartment blocks or rooming houses that didn't suit their needs as they began having mobility issues or needed regular minor medical care. They were isolated and vulnerable to injuries such as falling down stairs.

Central Park Lodge Ltd. was created in 1962 by Steininger and built a prototype in Regina. The company then approached Trizec Corporation, the giant Montreal-based construction company that would eventually redevelop Portage and Main with its Trizec building and Winnipeg Square, seeking a partnership. With Trizec's capital behind it, Central Park Lodge Ltd. had 20 lodges in operation across the country worth $40 million by the end of 1969. (They built a second lodge in Winnipeg, on Poseidon Bay, and one in downtown Brandon.)

Steininger was based in Winnipeg as vice-president of Central Park Lodges Ltd. and was an advocate for seniors care at all levels, speaking out publicly about conditions like dementia and the vulnerability of the elderly.

September 30, 1964, Winnipeg Tribune

Construction began on Central Park Lodge in the spring of 1963 after the demolition of a number of homes on the site, (the under construction photo above shows houses on either side of it.)

The building opened on October 1, 1964 and in the first month 53 people, only eight of them men, moved in. It was touted as the first retirement hotel in Canada with ones in Calgary and Thunder Bay under construction.

Steininger left the company to go back to work for the Saskatchewan government in 1971. Central Park Lodges, the largest private provider of seniors care in North America, continued on as a subsidiary of Trizec and the Reichmann family. By the 2000s, the company operated as many as eight seniors' facilities in Manitoba alone.

In 2001, Central Park Lodges was made into a trust that was controlled by the Reichmann family. In 2006, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, a federal Crown corporation, began purchasing its shares and by 2007 was the sole owner, (source), and the company name was changed to Revera Inc..

June 26, 1967, Winnipeg Tribune

The announcement of the closing of Parkview Place, the new name given to the building by Revera, comes on the heels of complaints about conditions, such as a cockroach infestations and an outbreak of COVID 19 that left 29 residents dead.

Due to the nature of the building, with its tiny, hotel-style rooms and poured concrete walls, the company says that "...its outdated design and layout is no longer conducive to the care of elderly residents" and that renovations are not possible.

Parkview Place will close by August 2022.

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