Building up the north side

A prosperous north side of the city is as much personal as it is business for Amritpal Jhand and Satpal Sidhu.

It’s why the cousins and managing directors of Whiteland Real Estate decided to step away from industrial development and set their sights on continuing to build up the only area they’ve called home since emigrating to Winnipeg from India in 2003, with their first mixed-use project in the province’s capital.

“We have big land assembly in the city,” Sidhu said. “We’ve been working in this area for years. This was all in our planning, but now we are pretty much done with industrial and we decided to go ahead with these projects.

<p>MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p> <p>Satpal Sidhu, president (left), and Amrit Jhand, CEO of the Whiteland Real Estate.</p>
MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILESSatpal Sidhu, president (left), and Amrit Jhand, CEO of the Whiteland Real Estate.

“It’s not something new to us, but in Winnipeg, we’re doing it for the first time.”

Jhand and Sidhu, who have their hands in residential, commercial and industrial builds across the country, have exclusively delved in the industrial sector, primarily around Centreport. Now they’re tapping into the mixed-use sector in the north side of the city to bring the Polaris Place, a 43-acre node that stands near the Perimeter on McPhillips Street, split by North Point Boulevard.

Construction on the northerly side of the project — Polaris Plaza — which is the smaller of the two sides at 18 acres, is well underway and will bring 760 new apartment units — the Polaris Towers — and 74,000 square feet of commercial space to an area that has boomed in recent years with the development of the nearby Aurora and Highland Pointe neighbourhoods.

Whiteland will break ground on the apartments in the spring and expects the commercial space to be complete by the end of 2024.

“Affordable housing is a demand right now,” said Jhand. “That’s why we want to diversify ourselves from industrial to residential.

“The north side is in too much demand right now. Like Centreport, all the employment land is on the north side. You can see all the big warehouses, all the industrial is coming to Centreport, so people are moving here more even from the east side. The demographic (studies) that have recently been done, they said there’s more people (moving) to this side of the city than the other parts. So there’s reason for more apartments, more buildings going on — people have more jobs in that area.”

The cousins have yet to confirm when they will break ground on the 25-acre plot of land, but said it will be exclusively commercial space and take at least five years to erect.

Both have lived in the north since moving to Winnipeg, but it’s also the only area their children have ever known.

“We live in the north area, our kids were raised over here, so our plan is to improve the north area,” Jhand said.

<p>Polaris Plaza rendering. (Photo credit: Whiteland Real Estate)</p>
Polaris Plaza rendering. (Photo credit: Whiteland Real Estate)

“We noticed what we need to bring here, what our kids need to be here and what the requirements are so we plan to bring all those facilities to that area. We want people to come to the north side and spend their time on the north side.”

Coun. Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) has similar visions for the northwest quadrant of the city.

“North Winnipeg is really a canvas of opportunity right now. Projects like Highland Pointe and Aurora are just the start. It’s an exciting time, but these are works in progress that require careful planning and community input,” Sharma said.

Indeed, Highland Pointe, where McPhillips Street meets the Perimeter, will erect more than 2,000 lots on 400 acres of land by 2033 while Aurora, which rests behind the Polaris Plaza, has already filled 507 residential lots and serviced a total of 703 through Phase 10 of its master plan.

“The new commercial development is a promising sign and a welcome addition. It’s also evidence that McPhillips Street is a thriving and high-demand commercial corridor. So, rather than viewing it as filling a gap, I see it as a logical and positive step in the ongoing evolution of north Winnipeg.”

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