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Highrise adds to Winnipeg skyline

Tower is first new downtown private-sector office building since '90s

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/3/2018 (581 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s been a long time since anyone’s even tried it in Winnipeg, but the folks at True North Real Estate Development (TNRED) and PCL Constructors have completed the city’s first high-end office tower in 25 years — on time and on budget.

True North Square’s 17-storey office/retail tower at 242 Hargrave St. reached structural completion earlier in March and the 25-storey residential-retail building at 225 Carlton St. was topped off this week, establishing a new visual profile for the city’s skyline.

The office tower — the first new private-sector downtown office development since the early ’90s — will see its first occupancy at the end of June when the Winnipeg law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP moves in to the top three floors.

In addition to Thompson Dorfman Sweatman (TDS), Scotiabank and business consulting firm MNP LLP have also committed to the new building, accounting for 60 per cent of the 300,000-square-foot building’s leasable office space, according to TNRED president Jim Ludlow.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/3/2018 (581 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s been a long time since anyone’s even tried it in Winnipeg, but the folks at True North Real Estate Development (TNRED) and PCL Constructors have completed the city’s first high-end office tower in 25 years — on time and on budget.

True North Square’s 17-storey office/retail tower at 242 Hargrave St. reached structural completion earlier in March and the 25-storey residential-retail building at 225 Carlton St. was topped off this week, establishing a new visual profile for the city’s skyline.

The office tower — the first new private-sector downtown office development since the early ’90s — will see its first occupancy at the end of June when the Winnipeg law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP moves in to the top three floors.

In addition to Thompson Dorfman Sweatman (TDS), Scotiabank and business consulting firm MNP LLP have also committed to the new building, accounting for 60 per cent of the 300,000-square-foot building’s leasable office space, according to TNRED president Jim Ludlow.

"This is evidence of the art of the possible," Ludlow said. "Two years ago, this was a surface parking lot in the heart of the SHED (sports, hospitality and entertainment district)."

The two-tower construction site remains the workplace for about 320 construction workers and Sean Barnes, vice-president and district manager with PCL Constructors Canada Inc., said the project has already been responsible for about 900,000 person-hours of work and jobs for 1,300 people.

Looking northwest from the 17th-floor space that will soon be the new law offices of TDS, Barnes pointed to IGM Financial Inc.’s head office building at Portage Avenue and Colony Street, one of the newer downtown office towers.

"We built that one in 1987," he said, punctuating the historic nature of the near-completion of the True North Square buildings.

The last downtown office tower built in the city, the Manitoba Hydro headquarters, was completed in 2009. Prior to that, the last pure private-sector development was 201 Portage Ave. in 1991.

The two-tower Sutton Place Hotel and Residences project on the west side of Carlton Street is now all that remains to be constructed in what is to be a $500-million project adding 1.1 million sq. ft. of space.

Ludlow acknowledged the Sutton Place project is a little behind schedule, but said he expects developers, Vancouver-based Northland Properties Corp., to start excavation of that site later this year.

Meanwhile, Ludlow said pre-leasing of the office tower has gone well with about 60 per cent of a building leased just prior to completion.

"There’s been lots of activity, lots of interest in the building," he said.

Tower 1 (right) and Tower 2 (left) at True North Square are still under construction.</p>

Tower 1 (right) and Tower 2 (left) at True North Square are still under construction.

"We’re working with some national tenants with the expectation that we will have further prospective announcements on tenancies coming up."

Ludlow characterized the two floors of retail in the office tower as a "best-of-brand local boutique food hall," including a landmark Manitoba Liquor Mart store perhaps as large as 50,000 sq. ft. He said details of that deal are still being hammered out.

With occupancy of the office tower beginning this summer, part of the public square — partially funded through public-sector tax increment financing — will also be open this summer.

The 25-storey residential building will now start being enclosed in its curtain wall, with a completion date slated for the spring of 2019.

Ludlow said it’s customary to not begin marketing multi-family rental-residential units until about six months before occupancy, meaning the fall of this year.

Both buildings will include two floors of retail and the residential tower will feature four floors of boutique office space and 18 floors of rental apartments with 11 suites per floor except the 24th-floor penthouse, which will have seven.

The 25th floor will house public amenities for tenants including a full-service kitchen, dining room, media room, lounge areas, solarium and outdoor terrace.

The completion of the residential tower will allow TNRED and its developer partners James Richardson & Sons to be first to market in what will be a wave of new rental residential developments along the Graham Avenue strip.

At the east end, Artis REIT is already in preliminary construction for its 40-storey, 400-unit residential tower on Main Street south of the Portage and Main office tower at 360 Main St.

Jim Green, the chief financial officer of Artis Real Estate Investment Trust, said it’s likely their project will have construction cranes on the site by late June or early July.

Like Ludlow, Green said he’s happy there are other projects in the works and is confident that they will be able to lease the units.

"We are still feeling good about the market," he said. "It is a bit new, bringing people to live downtown. But it’s a trend that every urban city needs to get to. Winnipeg is just starting at it."

Ludlow believes the prospect of being able to live and work in essentially the same location is something that especially young professionals in the city will embrace.

"We are building density, we are building urban lifestyle, we’re building neighbourhood," Ludlow said.

"If we want to continue to progress you have to take risks to progress. We expect that among many other things that go on in Winnipeg that this helps carry the city forward."

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Martin Cash

Martin Cash
Reporter

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

Read full biography

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History

Updated on Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 8:03 AM CDT: Updated

March 20, 2018 at 3:32 PM: Corrects date of Manitoba Hydro building completion.

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