January 8, 2015

5 Downtown Office Projects to Watch in 2015

You can expect nearly 3M SF of downtown office space delivered by this year (and 6M SF by 2017), according to CBRE. Bisnow went for a brisk stroll in the bitter cold to see five eagerly anticipated developments.

1. Bay Adelaide East

Behold the glorious glass-towered symmetry of Brookfield Properties' Bay Adelaide Centre. The new 44-storey companion to Brookfield's Bay Adelaide West, Bay Adelaide East topped out in November. With 1M SF of office space and a podium that occupies an entire block at Yonge and Adelaide, BA East is the second tower of a three-phase development, and it's targeting LEED Platinum CS. Deloitte will be the anchor tenant, taking 420k SF; law firm BLG is leasing 165k SF.

2. EY Tower

Just down the road at 100 Adelaide St W, the cranes are up for Oxford Properties Group's EY Tower. The 900k SF building—boasting 23.5k SF floor plates and a sixth-floor terrace—will incorporate into its entryway two facades from the 1928 Art Deco Concourse Building that previously stood on the site, including mosaics by Group of Seven artist J.E.H. MacDonald. With Ernst & Young and TMX Group as lead tenants, the tower will be a new addition to Oxford's 2.4M SF Richmond-Adelaide Centre.

3. Queen Richmond Centre West

Other towers can't match the architectural intrigue of Allied Properties REIT's Queen Richmond Centre West, with its 17-storey glass box vaulting over a heritage warehouse at Richmond and Peter. The building, offering nearly 300k SF of office and 14k SF of retail, will be finished this year. QRC West, the first of a two-phase project, has its intricate engineering on full display: the 70-foot steel structures that support the rooftop addition run through the five-storey glass-walled atrium.

4. Globe and Mail Centre 

They're still in the pit at 351 King East, home of First Gulf's Globe and Mail Centre. But watch for things to head skyward this year. The 17-storey, 500k SF building—with the Globe as anchor, taking the top five floors on a 15-year lease—will have 22k SF of retail. The Globe's existing home at Front and Spadina was bought by RioCan REIT, Allied Properties REIT and Diamond Corp., which plan a mixed-use JV project. GMC is Phase 2 of King East Centre; it's adjacent to 333 King East, the old Toronto Sun building refurbished by First Gulf that houses Coca-Cola Canada's HQ.

5. 16 York 

There was no discernible activity at 16 York when we stopped by, but that'll change soon. The 32-storey office tower by Cadillac Fairview is the third component of York Square, a mixed-use project that began with Lanterra Developments' Scandinavian-flavoured Ice Condo towers, which are nearing completion at York Street and Lake Shore Boulevard and will loom gracefully over the future office building. The complex has a PATH connection, channeling folks to Union Station via Maple Leaf Square, a real treat for those keen on keeping up with the melodrama at the ACC.

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The Beer Store Creates a Big Buzz

On the heels of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's threat to end The Beer Store's virtual monopoly on provincial wobbly-pop sales, the retailer announced yesterday it will allow Ontario-based micro-brewers to purchase ownership stakes in the private operation, currently run by three foreign-based brewers: Molson Coors, AB InBev and Sapporo. “We heard from Ontario brewers that they wanted to participate in the management of The Beer Store and contribute to its future success,” said Molson Coors Canada CEO Stewart Glendinning, pictured below, left, with parent company chair Andrew Molson and vice-chair Pete Coors.

The fine print: Brewers selling under 5 million litres a year pay $100 for a preferred share in the company; those clearing over that pony up $1k; small brewers (who sell under 1 million litres/year) pay no listing fee when stocking two of their products at the five stores closest to their brewery. Ontario brewers get three seats on the 15-member Beer Store board, but the foreign-owned incumbents maintain control. Ontario Craft Brewers chair Cam Heaps called the news a “complete surprise,” and said the plan doesn't address his group's “major issue”: improving consumer access to craft brews.

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Coming off Best Quarter,
Dream Has Work Ahead

Q4 was Dream Office REIT's best in 2014 for leasing volume, completing close to 900k SF. Deal velocity remained “particularly strong” in Toronto, Dream said this week, with 176k SF of leasing completed downtown and 183k SF in the burbs. And the firm has a “good head start” for 2015, with 45% (or 1.2M SF) in completed leases commencing in 2015. Looking ahead, CEO Jane Gavan notes 10.7M SF of its tenancies will expire between 2017 and 2020, with 1.2M SF not being renewed. Most of the space is in “excellent buildings,” she says, such as Scotia Plaza (pictured), 438 University Ave and Telus House. She expects Dream to deal with 40% of this expiring space in 2015.

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Sure is cold outside. How cold is it? It's so cold... we need your best one-liners to warm our spirits: ryan.starr@bisnow.com