Redevelopment of station a go despite lack of tenants
The new owner of Saskatoon’s old police station has been working on the building’s interior for weeks and plans to begin transforming its concrete exterior into a sleek glass facade this spring, despite not having tenants lined up to occupy it.
Most companies won’t start work on an office building until leases are signed, but Duchuck Holdings Ltd. is confident it can begin filling the 64,020-squarefoot office building before the end of next year, according to a spokesman for the Saskatoon-based developer.
“We don’t have any deals done but we are talking to a number of potential tenants,” said ICR Commercial Real Estate managing partner Barry Stuart, who brokered the deal and spoke on behalf of Duchuck Holdings president Brent Suer.
“There really is a need for this kind of redevelopment in our market. Much of the city’s Class A (office space) is really decades old (and) the greenest building is one that is already built,” he added, noting that the developer is still aiming for a LEED gold certification.
Duchuck Holdings bought the police station — which it plans to rename River Quarry on 4th — from the City of Saskatoon for $10.7 million late last year.
It revealed its plan for the building, which took longer than expected to develop, on Monday.
The company’s announcement comes as the city’s downtown office market struggles with skyhigh vacancy rates. Colliers International reported this year that around 15 per cent of offices were empty, but forecast modest recovery and a concurrent “flight to quality.”
Stuart said the high vacancy rate is not a significant concern because demand for top-tier offices has remained comparatively strong — Colliers pegged the Class A vacancy rate at 5.6 per cent last year — and the new building will be desirable to potential tenants.
Although he declined to say how much money Duchuck Holdings plans to spend on the refurbishment — which includes new mechanical, electrical, plumbing and 85 heated parking stalls — Stuart said it’s considerably less than a new build would cost.
“I don’t believe we have competition due to timing, pricing and specifications,” he said.
Competition, however, could be on the horizon as a consortium of companies begins work on the first of two office towers planned for River Landing, while a local firm mulls a new nine-storey office building on a block along 22nd Street East.
The 13-storey tower under construction at River Landing is part of a $300 million complex being developed by Triovest Realtors Advisors Ltd. for owners Victory Majors Development Corp. and Greystone Managed Investments Inc.
The 180,000-square-foot building is 40 per cent leased, with the law firm MLT Aikins and a second unidentified tenant each taking two floors, and expected to be complete by the summer or fall of 2019, according to Triovest executive vice-president Blair Sinclair.
“Actions speak for themselves, and we are underway,” Sinclair said.
Canwest Commercial & Land Corp., meanwhile, has pushed the target completion date for its proposed $50-million, nine-storey World Trade Center Saskatoon to 2020, according to its website. The project was originally scheduled for completion in 2019.
The Saskatoon-based company and its sister firm, North Prairie Developments Ltd., have been mulling various developments on the 22nd Street property — which is currently occupied by the Haultain Building and the former Affinity Credit Union headquarters — since 2013.
The company unveiled its World Trade Center project in March, and said at the time that construction would start in the summer. Canwest subsequently bumped its start date into the fall, but work on the site has not yet begun.
“The project is alive and well,” said former Saskatoon mayor Don Atchison, who now works as a business development consultant for Canwest. “There has been tremendous interest in it. This is a good project; it’s going forward.”
The project is alive and well. There has been tremendous interest in it. This is a good project; it’s going forward.
An artist’s rendering of the proposed River Quarry on 4th, which is being developed in the old city police station by Duchuck Holdings Ltd. The company, which bought the building from the city for $10.7 million, says it’s not worried about current low office vacancy rates.