Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Banking on Winnipeg's top view

RBC pays to put logo on Portage and Main skyscraper

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THE biggest financial institution in Canada has taken out Winnipeg's billboard in the clouds.

RBC Royal Bank will raise its "Leo" logo atop 201 Portage Ave. early next month.

Alan Dunnett, regional director for RBC Wealth Management Dominion Securities, the bank's brokerage division, said his team negotiated the signage when it finalized its lease to move into the top three floors of the building last year.

Because the cost is embedded in the lease, it's difficult to determine the price of the city's highest billboard, he said.

"If you talk to anybody in commercial real estate, signage on buildings has significant intrinsic value.

If you went to a building manager and said 'I want to put a sign up,' it would cost a fair amount of money because it's a permanent, high-profile branding," he said.

The deal is for 12 years.

When Creswin Properties Inc., which owns the building, announced last spring it had sold the signage, it was believed the winning bidder was one of the building's multi-floor tenants: TD Bank (which used to have its name on the building), law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman and accounting firm MNP (formerly Meyers Norris Penny).

The 34-storey building, the tallest of the Portage & Main skyscrapers, will continue to be known as 201 Portage as Creswin has not sold the naming rights.

However, once the logo is up, it's hard to imagine it not being referred to as "the RBC Building" or "the Royal Bank Building."

If you get the feeling RBC is slowly taking over the Winnipeg skyline, you're right. This move comes a couple of weeks after the bank announced a 10-year naming rights agreement with the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

When its $180-million expansion and renovation is complete, it will be called the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.

RBC will then have its logo atop two of Winnipeg's signature buildings.

RBC expects the signage to be erected Aug. 5. It will not go unnoticed that its logo will go in the same space where signage for TD Bank, one of its major competitors, used to be just a few years ago. Since then, the former TD Centre has been known as Canwest Global Place and Canwest Place.

The building has been called 201 Portage since 2011, when the bankruptcy of Canwest nullified the licensing agreement between it and Creswin.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 13, 2013 B1

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