Neechi Commons at 865 Main Street
|The Euclid Block in the 1990's (Photo courtesy of Bridgman Collaborative Architecture)|
The buildings are located on Main Street, north of the railway underpass and represent a thriving turn-of-the-century district, filled with an array of stores, hotels and markets. Many of these businesses were owned and operated by immigrants of Eastern European descent, catering to the needs of Winnipeg's close-knit immigrant communities. Over time many of the buildings in this area, especially those closest to the railway underpass, have begun to deteriorate, with little capital being allocated and invested towards the preservation of these valuable heritage buildings. Today, Neechi Commons represents a reverse in this trend.
|Farmers Market's were a common sight along North Main Street in the 1900's. (Photo courtesy of Greg Agnew)|
|A farmers market facing North Main Street (Photo courtesy of Greg Agnew)|
The project was initially budgeted at 5 million dollars, but that number quickly increased to 6 million after a slate of unforeseen issues complicated the project. Extensive mould growth between the walls in the building's main annex caused delays, while older, water damaged bricks from the building's main facade needed to be replaced.
Despite the often unexpected and costly problems that arise when renovating heritage buildings like the Euclid Block, such an endeavour also provides its share of pleasant surprises. Peeling back years of modifications can reveal surprising architectural features that have been forgotten for decades. After removing the ceiling from the Euclid Block, three steel support beams were uncovered, likely salvaged from an earlier bridge project. Neechi Commons President, Louise Champagne found the beams so striking, she decided they should remain exposed as an architectural feature.
|Three Sisters Fruit and Vegetable Courtyard (Photo courtesy of Bridgman Collaborative Architecture)|
Further renovations to the Euclid Block included enlarging window openings to create bright spaces for workers and visitors. A closed loop geothermal heating and cooling system was installed below the parking lot, helping meet sustainability goals of the project. The building was divided and outfitted to accommodate the Come N' Eat Restaurant, Kookums Bakery, Three Sisters Fruit and Vegetable Courtyard, a full service supermarket, office space and the Neechi Niche Aboriginal Art and Craft Centre. When completed, over 90% of the existing building was reused, preserving much of the building's embodied energy and creating minimal environmental impact.
|Come N' Eat Restaurant (Photo courtesy of Bridgman Collaborative Architecture)|
|The double-height court with and metal spiral staircase (Photo courtesy of Bridgman Collaborative Architecture)|
It is an outstanding example of how heritage buildings can be successfully rehabilitated, addressing the needs of the community and environment, while maintaining their heritage value. Neechi Commons is a positive step in breathing new life into the community. They truly are an example that others can aspire to, building a brighter future for all Winnipeggers!
Neechi Commons Website
Peel's Prairie Provinces - Henderson Directory (1895 - 1965)
Bridgman Collaborative Architecture