Portage Place is a 439,600 square foot (40,840 m2) mixed-use shopping centre located in Downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It is located on the north side of Portage Avenue, between Vaughan and Carlton Streets and opened on September 17, 1987.
As of 2010, Portage Place generated $250 per square foot in monthly sales and charged retailers $15–$40 per square foot in rent, and monthly rent for the food court was $135 per square foot.
In the early 1980s north Portage Avenue was in decline, due in part to the "flight to the suburbs" and free parking at suburban malls. The three levels of government created the Core Area Initiative in 1981 to counter this decline, and rebuild this part of downtown. One of the proposals in 1983 to "fix" the North side of Portage Avenue was to realign the roadway and build a new arena. But this proposal was rejected by City Council.
The North Portage Development Corporation came into being in late 1984, and they announced the Portage Place mall, which included the apartments behind it, known as "The Promenade". Signers included Federal MP for Manitoba Lloyd Axworthy, and Mayor Bill Norrie. By the summer of 1985 buildings within the land area of Portage Place were demolished, and the mall opened in September, 1987.
By the Summer of 1988, barely a year since it opened, there were doubts of the shopping centre's success. Originally The Bay and Eaton's had extended their hours early in the week to encourage people to shop there, but the shoppers stayed away. Instead, it became a hangout for young people. Some store owners in the shopping centre said that after 5:30 p.m. there was a big drop in customers visiting the mall, and some tenants wanted their rent reduced.
An October 2007 Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS) report on Portage Place observed that "the property’s cash flow has continued to be depressed" amid declining average contractual rental rates, and that "the cash flow of the property may therefore not be enough to cover its refinance debt service". DBRS also noted, however, that the owners have "displayed [a] commitment to the property and DBRS doubts that it will be willing to lose control of its investment in lieu of injecting cash equity to reduce the refinance obligation."
In 2010, Portage Place converted 13 units of retail space totalling 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2) to office space. The change was planned as a result of a 15% vacancy rate. The units chosen for conversion were those in the west wing of the second floor.
The Imax Theatre in Portage Place closed on March 31, 2013 and the space left from it has not since been bought, leased or rented. The 276-seat theatre endured several years of substantial losses before its closure. Globe Cinema closed on June 15, 2014. As of January 2013, Portage Place has 12 empty retail storefronts, at a total vacancy rate of 7.5 per cent. Such closures have made Portage Place's future in dire straits as empty spaces are rising.
Portage Place spans three floors, totalling 439,600 square feet (40,840 m2). Anchor stores include Staples, HMV, and Shoppers Drug Mart. Portage Place is also known for its skywalks, connecting to Cityplace, the MTS Centre and to Hudson's Bay. There are shops located on the skywalks, as well.
In 2013, Service Canada moved their downtown Winnipeg office onto the first floor of Portage Place.
Edmonton court clock
There is a clock tower located in the Edmonton Court of Portage Place. Parts of the clock date back to 1903. Originally built to be placed in the dome of city hall. The clockmaker was Seth Thomas Company and local jeweller George Andrew of Andrew and Co. was awarded the contract to procure and install the clock. The original city hall clock had four clock faces, each 7 feet (2.1 m) in diameter and made of crushed glass. The original weights used to balance the pendulum weighed 1,000 pounds (450 kg) each.
The city hall building that the clock was built for came to an end in 1961. In the 1980s parts of the clock were moved to the Edmonton Court of Portage Place mall. The faces and hands of the current clock are replicas of the originals. The bells are not from the 1903 clock, and the chimes are now electronic. At the Portage Place location the clock was inoperable for a number of years due to damage from a contractor and later due to damage from a member of the public.
- Sandra Lewis; Lavonne Boutcher (September 17, 1987). "Thousands Turn Out for the Opening of Portage Place". CBWT 24Hours.
- "Thousands crowd Portage Place mall". Winnipeg Free Press. September 18, 1987. p. 3.
- Cabel, Ethan (17 March 2010). "Portage Place is 'cheap' without the 'chic'". The Uniter. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Final Concept and Financial Plan for North Portage Redevelopment: Report to Shareholders by Board of Directors. Winnipeg: North Portage Development Corp. March 26, 1984.
- McCourt, Mike; Walker, David (September 1987). "Background info on Portage Place". CBWT 24Hours.
- Ross Rutherford (July 1988). "Portage Place Has Failed to Attract Shoppers". CBWT 24Hours.
- "Portage Place success argued". Winnipeg Free Press. July 24, 1988. p. 2.
- Performance Update: Merrill Lynch Mortgage Loans Inc. Series 1998-Canada 1 (PDF). Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS). October 2007. p. 7.
- McNeill, Murray (12 July 2010). "Portage Place to convert empty shops". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Kives, Bartley (9 January 2013). "The sad state of Portage Place". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- "Downtown Places: Edmonton Court Clock". Winnipeg Downtown Places. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- Vanderhart, Tessa (September 22, 2012). "Portage Place: Time to tear it down and start anew?". Winnipeg Sun. Retrieved April 21, 2014.