‘A win for us and for the city it­self ’

Bio Ware an­nounces plan to move into Ep­cor Tower

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Edmonton - Kevin maimann

A world-fa­mous Ed­mon­ton video game de­vel­oper is mov­ing its lo­cal of­fice down­town. Ep­cor Tower an­nounced Thurs­day that Bio Ware will move into a 75,000-square foot space spread over three of its floors in late 2018 or early 2019.

“Hav­ing a group like this take a po­si­tion down­town is a win for us and for the city it­self,” said Sid­ney Wask­iewich, Qual­ico com­mer­cial’s vice pres­i­dent of leas­ing.

Ep­cor Tower was built in 2011 as a joint ven­ture with Qual­ico and Led­cor Prop­er­ties on 104 Av­enue and 101 Street.

Wask­iewich said its LRT and bus con­nec­tions, as well as its ameni­ties and prox­im­ity to bike lanes, make it an at­trac­tive op­tion, as well as the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of down­town with new fa­cil­i­ties like Rogers Place and the up­com­ing Royal Al­berta Mu­seum.

“We’ve got a vi­brancy down­town that is real and pal­pa­ble that we just didn’t have be­fore,” he said.

The move comes af­ter a long rise in down­town of­fice va­cancy rates, which more than dou­bled over the past year.

That num­ber dropped for the first time in five years this fall, how­ever, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port from real es­tate firm CBRE show­ing a 19.7 va­cancy rate in sum­mer 2017, com­pared to 19.9 per cent in the pre­vi­ous three months.

Part of the rise has been due to new build­ings like the Kelly Ram­sey, En­bridge Cen­tre and Ed­mon­ton tow­ers open­ing down­town.

That num­ber could rise again with the open­ing of the 66-storey Stan­tec Tower, sched­uled for Oc­to­ber 2018.

Wask­iewich said older tow­ers will likely have to re­fur­bish to keep ten­ants and at­tract new clients.

“I wouldn’t say we’re out of the woods yet,” he said.

BioWare, which orig­i­nated in Ed­mon­ton in 1995 and was bought by Elec­tronic Arts in 2008, is cur­rently housed on Cal­gary Trail near White­mud Drive.

The com­pany has won nu­mer­ous awards and cre­ated some of the world’s most crit­i­cally ac­claimed video games in­clud­ing Mass Ef­fect, Dragon Age, and Star Wars: The Old Repub­lic.

BioWare gen­eral man­ager Casey Hud­son called Ep­cor tower “world-class.”

“We’re thrilled to be mov­ing into a mod­ern, state-of-the art fa­cil­ity and live in a space that em­pow­ers and in­spires us to do our best work ev­ery day,” Hud­son said in a press re­lease.

Mayor Don Ive­son also is­sued a state­ment, say­ing BioWare is “a great ad­di­tion to our in­no­va­tion cor­ri­dor.”

“Their ex­pan­sion speaks to Ed­mon­ton’s sup­port­ive en­tre­pre­neur­ial cul­ture, one where we build it here and ex­pand it to the world.”

Mi­crosoft GaMe stu­dios/NYtNs

a scene from mass ef­fect, a game by mi­crosoft and BioWare Corp.

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