Date: April 26, 2014
Published in: Winnipeg Free Press
By Murray McNeill
A second major office tenant has been found for downtown Winnipeg's high-profile 311 Portage at Centrepoint development.
The local office of Regina-based retail-software-development firm iQmetrix has leased 10,000 square feet of space on the second floor of Centrepoint's five-storey office/restaurant complex, which is under construction on the northwest corner of Portage Avenue and Donald Street.
It will be joining engineering firm Stantec, which has leased the top 21/2 floors in the approximately 100,000-sq.-ft. complex.
The $130-million Centrepoint development is a key component in CentreVenture Development Corporation's downtown-revitalization plan and is a joint venture by two Winnipeg companies -- Longboat Development Corp. and Artis Real Estate Investment Trust.
The development takes up a good chunk of the one square block between Portage and Ellice avenues and Donald and Hargrave streets. It also includes a 15-storey Alt hotel, which is being built on top of an office/retail complex, a 400-stall parkade and a 21-storey condominium tower.
'I think it is going to be a truly unique place to work in Winnipeg'--iQmetrix development manager Thu Tran on his firm's new office under construction at Centrepoint.
The Glasshouse Skylofts condo tower is being developed by Toronto-based Urban Capital. It and the parkade will be on the Hargrave side of the property. The parkade is already under construction, and work on the condo tower is set to get underway in June.
With the iQmetrix deal finalized, that leaves about 8,000 square feet on the second floor and approximately 8,000 square feet on the third floor of the office/restaurant tower still to be rented. The main floor has already been leased to two restaurants -- Milestones Grill and Bar and China Libre.
"We're now about 85 per cent leased," Longboat president Scott Stephanson said in an interview Friday. "It's a great spot to be in."
Stephanson said although the unusually cold winter created plenty of challenges for construction crews, they're still on schedule to have the parkade and the office/restaurant complex completed by the fall of this year. He said construction of the hotel is also coming along nicely and should be completed by late this year or early in 2015. The condo tower will take about 18 months to build.
Work on the office/retail complex has now advanced to the point prospective tenants can be taken on tours of the building, Stephanson said. That's making it an easier sell for the leasing agent -- the Winnipeg office of Cushman & Wakefield.
He added he's confident the building will be fully leased by the time it opens.
It's hard to say who was happier to see the iQmetrix deal finalized -- Longboat or the new tenant.
"We're really excited about having them come into our building," Stephanson said, noting an IT company is a good fit for both building and the downtown.
Thu Tran, development manager for iQmetrix's Winnipeg office, said the Centrepoint building is also exactly what the company was looking for when it began its search for a new downtown location. He said it's on the verge of outgrowing the 4,000-sq.-ft. space it now leases in the Exchange District and expects to experience strong growth in business volumes and staffing levels over the next few years.
To accommodate that, it needed to more than double the size of its office. It was hoping to find a large, open space on a single floor so its employees can easily collaborate on projects.
Because the Centrepoint space is undeveloped, they'll be able to design the new office any way they wish, Tran said, and create the kind of dynamic workspace that will appeal to the young software developers, business analysts and quality-assurance specialists they hope to hire.
Being across the street from the MTS Centre, within the new sports, hospitality and entertainment district (SHED), and within walking distance of the Exchange District should also make it easier to attract and retain those kinds of workers, he added.
"I think it (the new office) is going to be a truly unique place to work in Winnipeg."