Factory turned apartment complex caters to students
CAM DEAMEL, CONTRIBUTOR
On 311 Alexander Ave, old factory rooms have been converted into one or two bedroom suites. Ducts and network cables are exposed, neatly arranged along the ceilings. Some of the unpainted concrete walls are peppered with markings and measurements from past construction.
Mike Patel calls it a downtown aesthetic. Students might be able to call it home.
Bag Factory Lofts is a six-storey apartment building that’s opening in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The building, which is two blocks north of RRC’s Princess Street Campus, was renovated with students in mind, according to project leader Patel.
“We want to engage the Red River College community,” he said. “Being a student is hard. We were all starving students at one point, and we want to be able to support them.”
The building was originally a commercial bag factory. Patel said it was also the first reinforced concrete structure in Winnipeg, constructed to minimize industrial machine noise.
One thing Patel said he and his crew considered was the safety of the area. But now that apartments are about to go on the market, Patel said he knows the location is right.
“We painted this building white last summer. It hasn’t been tagged,” he said. “We’ll have cameras in all hallways, the main lobby, and the laundry room. It’s a safe place to be.”
Some students who go to school downtown agree.
“I personally think it’s safe,” said Raquel Durst, a second-year finance major at RRC. “I think it’s convenient for them to be so close [to the college].”
There will be an open house at Bag Factory Lofts on Oct. 8 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The evening will be student-focused and you can find more information at yournextplace.ca.
The project takes advantage of the Downtown Residential Development Grant Program, which Patel said has not been handled well. Past projects, he said, have targeted higher-income families looking for a more permanent home. Bag Factory Loft’s flexible rental agreements and free Internet will help serve students with shallower pockets.
“It’s better than settling down on a buddy’s couch,” said Patel.