Re­de­vel­op­ment of sta­tion a go de­spite lack of ten­ants

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - ALEX MACPHER­SON

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.


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