Millennium Centre fills up

If Red Deer is in the grips of an economic slowdown, it hasn’t prevented the owner of Red Deer’s Millennium Centre from filling more than 40,000 square feet of office space.

If Red Deer is in the grips of an economic slowdown, it hasn’t prevented the owner of Red Deer’s Millennium Centre from filling more than 40,000 square feet of office space.

Artis Real Estate Investment Trust added a sixth and seventh floor to the building last year.

Earlier this month, Servus Credit Union said it would lease half of that seventh floor. Now, accounting firm BDO Dunwoody LLP has confirmed its commitment to occupy the entire sixth floor, and Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation is slated to take about 5,500 square feet of the seventh.

That leaves just 10 per cent of the new space, said Doug McGregor, Artis’s vice-president of leasing. He acknowledged the state of the economy has left some prospective tenants “sitting on their hands,” but said he was always confident the building would fill up.

“I’m actually surprised it took us as long as it did.”

McGregor explained that his company concluded there was a pent-up demand for office space in Red Deer. He believes some of that demand remains.

“We’re aware of a few more opportunities out there, with some tenants.”

That’s what Bert Messier is counting on.

The president of Beca International Ltd., which is developing the 12-storey Executive Place a block north at 4902 50th St., expects to have his project completed by year-end. That will put another 112,000 square feet of commercial and office space onto the local market.

“We are optimistic and we’re not in a panic,” said Messier, adding that he has commitments from national tenants.

It should become easier to sign leases as the completion date nears, he said, noting that some people who were interested in Executive Place couldn’t wait.

Messier pointed out that very little office space remains in the city, and he expects demand to spike as the economy rebounds.

“The reality is that I think we’re going to hit the market just about right on.”

In fact, Messier said he’s already considering other projects.

“If you look at a two-, three-block area of downtown for redevelopment, there are going to be opportunities.”

McGregor agreed that putting tenants into a building boils down to having the product when clients need it.

“A lot of these deals do tend to be very much timing.”

Jan Fisher, vice-president of marketing with Servus, said previously that the Millennium Centre space will help the credit union consolidate its administrative operations. Much of these are located in Parkland Square, but a shortage of room there forced Servus’s predecessor, Community Savings, to lease premises in other buildings.

She said the move into the Millennium Centre is slated for July 1.

BDO Dunwoody LLP merged with Cuthbertson Sandall and Partners at the beginning of last year. That left the new entity with two local offices and about 70 staff.

Mark Beavington, a partner with BDO Dunwoody, said his firm desperately needed more space.

“Both of our offices now are pretty much at the max.”

He said the Millennium Centre is ideal for its needs, and by taking an entire floor, BDO Dunwoody will have room to expand to between 100 and 110 staff. Consolidated operations will also promote staff synergies, he added.

Beavington said his firm expects to make the move prior to the end of June.

Tracy Larsen, a spokesperson with Alberta Infrastructure, said Tourism, Parks and Recreation wants to combine its current operations in First Red Deer Place and Rimbey.

“It’s just a consolidation of a few of the offices, so it improves their operations by getting them into one place.”

She said an Oct. 1 move is anticipated.

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