Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ex-Sport Manitoba space snapped up

Wawanesa, Assiniboine quickly move in

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The owner of the former Sport Manitoba office building at 200 Main St. didn't have to go far to find replacements for its former anchor tenant.

Another tenant in the seven-storey building -- Assiniboine Credit Union -- grabbed a big chunk of the SM space (about 30,000 square feet). And the building's owner -- the Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company -- took the remaining 18,000 square feet for its own operations.

Gary Timlick, Wawanesa's vice-president and chief financial officer, said Wawanesa's nine-storey, corporate headquarters at 191 Broadway -- just one block south and a half a block west of the building at 200 Main -- was bursting at the seams. So it was in dire need of more space.

"We bought that building (200 Main) quite a number of years ago because we knew we needed to add more space for our operations here in Winnipeg," said Timlick. "And it's very convenient to have it so close by."

He said after Sport Manitoba moved out late last year -- it had occupied the second, third, and fourth floors, as well as a small portion of the main floor -- Wawanesa scooped up the third and fourth floors and ACU grabbed the main and second floor space.

Timlick said Wawanesa has already relocated the bulk of its life insurance operations -- Wawanesa Life Insurance Co. -- to 200 Main. The third and fourth floors have been renovated and are now fully occupied, and renovations to the fifth floor will be completed by the end of this month.

Relocating the life insurance operations has freed up about 21/2 floors in the Broadway building, which its head-office operations will easily fill.

For ACU, Sport Manitoba's move to a retrofitted heritage building on Pacific Avenue -- the former Smart Bag Company Building -- created an opportunity for the credit union to finally consolidate its far-flung head-office operations under one roof.

ACU president and CEO Al Morin said in the wake of 2007's merger of Vantis and Astra credit unions with ACU, Assiniboine moved some of its expanded back-office operations into four different buildings that had been owned or leased by the three credit unions. But it was always a temporary solution.

"We've been working on that (finding a way to get them all under one roof) since the merger," he said. "But we had leases (in the other buildings) and we also needed to wait for space to open up here."

The four buildings were scattered all over the city -- in the Murray Industrial Park, at 3081 Ness Ave., at 3393 Portage Ave., and in the credit union's branch at 900 Harrow St.

Most of those operations will be moving to the second floor of 200 Main. But they can't make the move until extensive renovations are done later this year.

"We hope to have everybody moved in by the end of December," Morin said. "That's our target, and so far we're on target."

Once everyone moves in, AC will have over 300 staff in the building, he added.

Morin said he doesn't have a final figure yet for how much ACU is spending to renovate the second floor space.

"But it's a few million dollars."

Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 697-7254.

Main St. mainstay

Here is a thumbnail sketch of the office building at 200 Main St.:

Completed in 1989.

Formerly known as the Sports Manitoba building; now called 200 Main Street, although that could change.

Seven storeys, with 117,000 square feet of office and retail space and a 310-stall underground garage.

The bottom two floors are substantially bigger than the top five floors. The main floor is about 28,000 square feet, the second floor is about 30,000 square feet, and the top five floors are each about 11,700 square feet.

The owner is the Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co., which acquired the building in December 2003.

Tenants are Wawanesa, Assiniboine Credit Union (ACU), Ivory Restaurant and Handy Mart.

Wawanesa and ACU occupy the lion's share of the space. Wawanesa has three full floors (third, fourth and seventh) and part of the fifth (about 30,000 square feet in total). ACU has the rest of the fifth floor, all of the second and sixth floors, and most of the main floor (about 55,000 square feet).

-- Source: Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2010 D9

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