Photo: Michael Roberts
Historically, this urban mantra of ‘live, work, play’ was a given. People didn’t have cars in the ‘20s and ‘30s like they do today. As such, folks worked close to home, and when they needed to let off some steam, chances were they walked to entertainment venues like a neighbourhood movie theatre or nightclub. Along the way they met up with others in the community. The result was a greater feeling of
belonging and civic engagement. This is the idea around the moves to develop downtown now - more people equal more interactions – more interactions engender a greater sense of community – a greater sense of community creates more worthwhile urban life. Consider the work of True North and its partners with the MTS Centre on Portage Avenue. Their effort kick-started a rebirth of the main commercial area by bringing people back to the downtown area to engage businesses after working hours. Following the moves to the suburbs in the 1970s, downtown was left like a hole in a donut where daytime residents (office and factory workers) left in droves for greener home pastures at 5:00 PM. Now, with the Jets and venues like MTS, people have returned (albeit for short periods during game and event times) to discover interesting restaurants and watering holes, as well as retail destinations. Certainly one retailer that has helped raise the bar is Interior Illusions. This design house has been at home in the downtown area for more than 30 years, and recently upped its presence with a new location on Princess Street in the heart of the Exchange District. According to principal Magda Zelickson, the reasoning behind locating downtown was easy for them. “Because we do business in all areas of the city, we need to be central, and downtown offers this for us. Downtown is also seeing a lot of rejuvenation and with this comes a need for good interior design,” she says, noting that she has seen a greater willingness to come downtown now from people who had been concerned about things like parking in the past.
Summer 2014 | STYLE MANITOBA | 53