It was talked about last year and many people thought that perhaps the Richardson family might put their research and development arm in one of the new towers proposed by the MTS Centre. When that didn’t happen, some thought it might go into one of the empty spaces left when some law firms at Portage and Main relocated.
It is now revealed that the Richardson family had other plans altogether. At the corner of Lombard and Westbrook between the Goldeyes stadium, a parking lot and lane will be converted to to the $20 million Innovation Centre for Richardson International.
The biggest division of the Richardson family holding is in agriculture and and the 2013 acquisition of Can Oat milling has triggered a need to consolidate research and development near the James Richardson and Sons Ltd. headquarters at Portage and Main. The work is being moved from Lethbridge, Alberta and Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The Winnipeg center will develop new canola and oat products such as margarine and oils.
The Richardson family often flies below the radar even in their own hometown but it is important to remember they run one of Canada’s largest private companies and they spend hundreds of millions in development and acquisitions. The family is also one of the largest for charitable donations and have been significant sustainers across a host of institutions across Manitoba.
The new Innovation Centre will take over a Richardson owned surface lot as well as a public lane owned by the city. In essence a Richardson campus is being created that encompasses several family owned properties.
Urbanists often fret about all the surface lots and they are right. They are forlorn, wasteful and inefficient uses of space. In the last year, we have seen a number of surface lots become important parts of a greater development. In this case, we might see one that relies strictly on private capital.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations