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Old Posted Jun 1, 2016, 1:58 PM
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Agriculture Place opening a milestone for Regina's downtown revitalization

Bruce Johnstone, Regina Leader-Post

The official opening of Agriculture Place marks a milestone in the rebirth of Regina’s downtown, which began with the development of Cornwall Centre in the late 1970s, according to Paul Hill, president, CEO and chairman of The Hill Companies, which built the $60-million, 11-storey office building at 1820 Hamilton St.

“The (NDP) government of the day had built the Cornwall Centre, which was a great initiative for the downtown,” Hill said, referring to the retail mall and office complex bounded by 11th Avenue and Saskatchewan Drive and Hamilton and Lorne Streets.

“But the unexpected fallout for that was that all of these streets were empty. They were vacated. There was nobody going up and down these streets anymore,” Hill said.

Around that time, downtown merchants, the city administration, the two senior governments and developers, like Hill-owned Harvard Developments, came up with plan to revitalize the downtown. “We put together in our minds what we thought was a 20-year plan; I think it’s more like 50-year plan.”

Over the last 35 years, Harvard Developments built Hill Centre Towers I, II and III, the Crown Life (later Canada Life) building on 1900 block of Scarth Street and helped to accommodate Crown Life and Farm Credit Canada, which had relocated from Toronto and Ottawa respectively in the early 1990s.

Since coming to Regina in 1992, FCC occupied a number of locations throughout the city, including the FCC Tower at 1800 Hamilton St. But with the completion of Agriculture Place, FCC’s 750 head office employees will be all under one roof.

“This building (Agriculture Place) was always contemplated, but it took a lot to achieve,” Hill said.

“A project of this size does not materialize without first a vision, then later dedication and commitment and many hearts and minds,” added Rosanne Hill Blaisdell, vice-president of Harvard Developments and daughter of Paul Hill.

“Six years ago, Farm Credit Canada, after many years of success and growth, found itself scattered amongst a number of office buildings in the downtown,” Hill Blaisdell said.

Harvard’s development team assembled the land on 1800 block Hamilton Street “to build a second tower and tie into an existing structure (FCC Tower), while building three levels of underground parking down the block and respecting the retail operators (on Hamilton Street).”

“It was a complex proposition,” Hill Blaisdell said. “Our team was up for the challenge.”

“At 160,000 square feet, 11 storeys high, Agriculture Place is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rated building and a natural extension of the existing FCC Tower, allowing for the consolidation of FCC’s headquarters.”

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