A preliminary artist’s rendering of Agriculture Place, a new office tower announced by Harvard Developments that will be located in downtown Regina.
Photograph by: courtesy of Harvard Developments , handout
REGINA — With the first new office tower in downtown Regina in 20 years nearing completion, Harvard Developments announced Tuesday that will build another office tower at the other end of 1800 block Hamilton Street, starting in late 2013 for occupancy in 2015.
Called Agriculture Place, the new office tower will be built along side the existing Harvard Developments-owned building at 1800 Hamilton St., which currently houses the head office of Farm Credit Canada. FCC will also be the major tenant of the new building.
Agriculture Place, which will be similar in size to the 13-storey FCC building, will join another Harvard Developments project at the corner of Hamilton Street and 12th Avenue, known as Hill Centre Tower III. That $100-million project, which is scheduled to be completed in mid-2012, complements Harvard-owned Hill Centre Towers I and II at 1874 and 1881 Scarth St, respectively.
Rosanne Hill Blaisdell, managing partner of Harvard Buildings, a subsidiary of Regina-based Harvard Developments, confirmed the long-rumoured project would be going ahead in an interview with the Leader-Post Tuesday.
In fact, Harvard bought up some nearby properties several years ago in expectation of the second tower being built adjacent to the FCC building, which was constructed to accommodate FCC's relocation from Ottawa to Regina in 1992.
"The original (FCC) building was always designed for a second tower,'' Hill Blaisdell said. "We bought some additional land to be able to create a larger floor plate for the tenant,'' she said,
FCC has employees located in a number of locations throughout the city and the new building would enable the federal Crown corporation to consolidate its head office operations in the two buildings, she said. "It was (FCC's) desire to consolidate and provide their staff an opportunity to be in one complex for efficiency and to accommodate their longer-term expectations around growth.''
In fact, FCC has been looking for more office space in downtown Regina since 2009 and issued a request for proposal (RFP) in 2010. Harvard submitted a bid to the RFP and was accepted as the successful bidder later in 2010, Hill Blaisdell said.
Since then, Harvard has assembled a project team, but is still looking for a general contractor for the project. "I can't tell you the exact size of the building right because we are still working on our design and plans for that. But I can tell you the square footage requirement that we're fulfilling for Farm Credit and that encompasses their existing and new space.''
FCC requested between 204,000 and 236,000 square feet of space between the two buildings, which means the new building will be approximately 102,000 to 118,00 square feet. That would put the capital cost of the new building at roughly $50 million to $60 million.
While the exact design and plans for the project have not been approved by the city planning commission, Hill Blaisdell said it would be in keeping with the "spirit'' of the city's master plan for downtown.
And she said the office space created by the new building should not create hardship for other property owners in the downtown, which boasts the lowest office vacancy rate in the country at 1.2 per cent. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will move 85,000 square feet of office space into the Hill Centre Tower III, further increasing the supply of office space in the downtown core.
"There will be ample extra space in downtown at good, reasonable prices that will essentially put the vacancy rate back in that five or six per cent range. That gives tenants choice for expansion or relocation and really helps the health of the office market.''
As for the businesses on the 1800 block dislocated by the construction of Agriculture Place, Hill Blaisdell said the Green Spot and Hall & Rae will likely relocate elsewhere in the city.
Hill Blaisdell said the Harvard projects are just one more sign of the ongoing construction boom in the city. "How exciting it is for the city of Regina! I think there are a couple of cranes in the air. There's construction happening,'' she said.
"We're so proud to be part of this stage of progress in the province.''