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Development to turn University of Manitoba campus into ‘UniverCity’

Southwood Circle, one of Winnipeg’s largest sustainable infill developments, will transform the University of Manitoba’s Fort Garry campus into “UniverCity” accommodating 60,000 people for living, working, studying, and leisure purposes.

This project marks Manitoba’s inaugural complete campus community and one of the city’s largest mixed-use infill ventures. The neighbourhood is expected to be home to more than 1.1 million m2 (12 million sf) of new residential, commercial, and institutional space, representing more than $5 billion in private investment.

UM Properties, a limited partnership under the University of Manitoba, oversees the project. UM Properties GP Inc., an independent land development company, guides Southwood Circle’s transformation into a mixed-use community.

The design team, led by Anishinaabe architect Ryan Gorrie, prioritized nature preservation, conserving the property’s 5,000 trees, some of which are up to 300 years old. The design team established a park network within the existing forest for trails and wildlife corridors, spanning more than 8.5 ha (21 acres), which is twice the municipal requirement, including 3.6 ha (9 acres) of a waterfront park.

UM Properties has divided the land into parcels it will lease to third-party developers, who will be responsible for building the development in accordance with UM Properties design guidelines. The first call for proposals went out in summer 2023 and construction on the first buildings is expected to begin in 2024.

At Southwood Circle, it will be easy to get around and accomplish any daily travels on foot, by bike, or by transit. The community will feature about 10 km (6.2 miles) of new active transportation pathways and the entire neighbourhood will be steps from the rapid transit station at the University of Manitoba, making downtown commute easily accessible.

“Southwood Circle is part of a transformation of the 110-year-old Fort Garry campus from a daytime commuter destination to a complete community,” says Michael Benarroch, president of UM. “This community answers the call for sustainable housing options. It will be a unique urban experience, distinct within Winnipeg. It will be rich in amenities. It will integrate the university with the surrounding community.”

“One of our most important goals for Southwood Circle is for it to be a symbol of reconciliation in action,” says Bob Silver, chair of UM Properties. “We’re immensely honoured that the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) will be part the Southwood Circle community. And our planners have done an amazing job of giving it a place of prominence for residents and visitors. It will be one more reason to make Southwood Circle a destination of national and international importance.”

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