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This article was published 22/3/2009 (3072 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A provincial request for downtown office space has triggered a flurry of interest among property owners, including two who want to construct new buildings and one who wants to revive a Portage Avenue eyesore.
Commercial real estate industry officials say the government received nine replies after it issued a request for proposals late last year for 42,000 square feet of downtown office space for its Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) department.
At least two of the proposals involve the construction of new buildings, at least two involve the redevelopment of a heritage building, and at least two involve filling soon-to-be-vacated space in office towers.
The two new buildings would be a three-storey, 42,000-square-foot structure on the northwest corner of Notre Dame Avenue and Ellen Street, and a five-storey, 50,000-square-foot building at Good Street and St. Mary Avenue.
Shindico is the developer behind the proposed Notre Dame Avenue project. Shindico development manager Bob Downs declined to discuss the details of its proposal, but city records revea the size of the building. They also show the development would take up 11 lots -- some on Notre Dame and some on Ellen Street.
Longboat Development Corp., the real estate development arm of Winnipeg-based Stephenson Group, is behind the proposed Good Street project.
Longboat president Scott Stephanson said its building would be built on two lots -- one vacant and one occupied by a small building that would be moved.
The two heritage buildings that would get a new lease on life are the long-vacant Avenue Building on the north side of Portage Avenue between Garry and Smith streets, and the Brick's Fine Furniture building at 111 Lombard St.
The city's downtown development arm -- CentreVenture Development Corp. -- is the driving force behind the Avenue Building proposal, while a Winnipeg-based property management and development firm -- United Equities Group -- is behind the Brick's Fine Furniture project.
If CentreVenture wins the MIT sweepstakes, it will revive an earlier $10-million plan by A.S.H. Management Group to convert the Avenue Building into a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver-standard office building.
That project was mothballed last year after A.S.H. was unable to find a tenant, which is a prerequisite for the project to proceed, and another developer from Saskatchewan with big plans for the building failed to obtain financing.
CentreVenture president and CEO Ross McGowan and Jack Hurtig, A.S.H.'s manager of leasing, are crossing their fingers and hoping their proposal wins the day.
"We're not giving up on the Avenue Building," McGowan said. "We'll turn over any rock and talk to anybody we need to get that building done (redeveloped). It's on our premier street and it must be done."
Hurtig said MIT would be an ideal tenant for the building because the province is a big proponent of green buildings, it's looking to sign a long-term lease, and it would fill the entire building. Joe Diner, a commercial real estate agent with DTZ Barnicke Winnipeg and one of the listing agents for the Brick's Fine Furniture building, said it's not surprising so many property owners and developers are competing for the MIT lease.
He said government departments are considered the creme-de-la-creme of commercial real estate tenants because they tend to want long-term leases and they often need a lot of space.
Mortgage lenders also like them as tenants, and often give landlords a discounted interest rate if they have one in their building.
They're also guaranteed to pay rent on time and they won't go out of business, said Art Giesbrecht, leasing manager for Morguard Investments Ltd. Morguard has offered space in the Lakeview Square office building at 155 Carlton St. "We're keeping our fingers and toes crossed that we'll be the lucky ones," he said.
A provincial spokesman wouldn't say how many proposals were received. One of the bidders said a decision is expected before the end of May.
Know of any interesting developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let reporter Murray McNeill know at the e-mail address below or at 697-7254.
Measuring the response
THE Manitoba government is in the market for 42,000 square feet of downtown office space for its Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) department. Late last year, it issued a request for proposals from property owners and developers, and industry sources say it received nine replies. Here's what sources confirm about six of the proposals:
"ö The Avenue Building, 265 Portage Ave.: CentreVenture Development Corp. hopes to revive a $10-million plan by A.S.H. Management Ltd. to convert the long-vacant, six-storey building into a 'green' office building. MIT would be the sole occupant.
"ö The Brick's Fine Furniture building, 111 Lombard Ave.: Winnipeg-based United Equities Group plans to redevelop the six-storey, 118,000-square-foot building into an ultra-green office complex. MIT would be one of several anchor tenants.
"ö 395 Notre Dame Ave.: Shindico has proposed building a three-storey, 42,000-square-foot office building, with surface parking, on 11 lots along Notre Dame and Ellen Street. Three buildings would be demolished. MIT would be the only tenant.
"ö Good Street and St. Mary Avenue: Winnipeg-based Longboat Development Corp. has proposed building a five-storey, 50,000 square-foot building on two adjoining lots. A small building on the site would be relocated. MIT would be the lone tenant.
"ö Lakeview Square, 155 Carlton St.: Leasing agent Morguard Investments Ltd. is offering the 42,000 square feet of space the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority will be vacating when it moves into its new building under construction on Main Street.
"ö Newport Centre, 330 Portage Ave.: Shelter Canadian Properties Ltd. is offering 42,000 square feet of space being vacated by Great-West Life Assurance Co., which is moving into Centra Gas's former quarters in the office building at 444 St. Mary Ave. (Centra is moving into Manitoba Hydro's new downtown office tower).