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  #101  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2019, 1:31 PM
Winnipegger Winnipegger is offline
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Originally Posted by esquire View Post
BMO had a public meeting yesterday to discuss their departure from their banking hall at Portage and Main. According to CBC they didn't have any answers about what was in store for the building.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manit...ting-1.5287797

I find it surprising that after all these years, BMO would ditch the most impressive banking hall in western Canada for generic office tower space. There are few companies anywhere in Canada that can boast of occupying such a grand and historic space for such a long time... you'd think that kind of tangible connection would be worth something to BMO, but apparently not.

Back in the 80s when BMO built a beautiful tower to complement the banking hall it seemed like there would be a long future for them there. But first they sold off the tower, and now they're sealing the deal by getting rid of the banking hall.
I think you're overestimating how much the big banks care about anything else other than their bottom line. Unless it has to do with building a new head office in Toronto, Canadian banks seem keen on doing everything possible to protect their profits. Not saying that's a good or bad thing, but we've seen that despite record profits the banks continue to lay off staff, close branches, consolidate, etc. Sure, that's the way of business but it really demonstrates how little banks care about the communities they operate in (other than having the nicest tower on Bay Street of course).
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  #102  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2019, 1:43 PM
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esquire esquire is offline
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Originally Posted by Winnipegger View Post
I think you're overestimating how much the big banks care about anything else other than their bottom line. Unless it has to do with building a new head office in Toronto, Canadian banks seem keen on doing everything possible to protect their profits. Not saying that's a good or bad thing, but we've seen that despite record profits the banks continue to lay off staff, close branches, consolidate, etc. Sure, that's the way of business but it really demonstrates how little banks care about the communities they operate in (other than having the nicest tower on Bay Street of course).
Yeah, you're probably right. Unless someone in the C-suite occupies it, the banks appear to not give a crap about their physical presence anymore.

At the rate things are going, once the lease at 201 Portage expires in a few years we can all look forward to BMO's new main branch next to the Money Mart in this thing:

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  #103  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2019, 8:26 PM
CoryB CoryB is offline
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Yeah, you're probably right. Unless someone in the C-suite occupies it, the banks appear to not give a crap about their physical presence anymore.
Not entirely true. I think the banks all still put a lot of effort into the appearance of local offices for the extremely high valued clients (ie the top 1%). I have never seen it but I believe RBC, TD and Scotia all have them locally and it wouldn't be surprising to hear BMO has one as well. I would guess that the front line contact is more along the lines of a financial adviser than a simple customer service representative.
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  #104  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2019, 8:35 PM
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^ I was exaggerating a bit, I'd even go so far as to say that new retail branches have improved a bit compared to what was going up around the 90s/early 00s. But the banks aren't interested in architectural statements like what BMO has at Portage and Main anymore.
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  #105  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2019, 9:52 PM
bomberjet bomberjet is offline
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Catering to the 1% is about the money though. The banks are only there to make money. Just like me at work, just here to make money. Like pretty much every business.
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  #106  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 6:03 PM
rkspec rkspec is offline
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Are the barriers still coming down for repairs to happen? Next year if so?
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  #107  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 6:12 PM
EdwardTH EdwardTH is offline
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Honestly the BMO building is beautiful and deserves something better than a bunch of cubicles inside of it so this could end up being a win. The barriers of course are the biggest obstacle to that. If that beautiful building sits empty for years I wonder if the "vote closed" people will start to understand? Probably not but I can hope.
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  #108  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 6:22 PM
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Honestly the BMO building is beautiful and deserves something better than a bunch of cubicles inside of it so this could end up being a win. The barriers of course are the biggest obstacle to that. If that beautiful building sits empty for years I wonder if the "vote closed" people will start to understand? Probably not but I can hope.
I don't know what is going to end up in there that is any better than its intended purpose, i.e. a bank.

I mean, look at some of the other old banking halls downtown... the old Bank of Nova Scotia is the Vital Stats office. The old CIBC is a semi-abandoned banquet hall. The Bank of Hamilton is civic offices. Others are weekend nightclubs and resto-bars.

Realistically the best case scenario might be that a semi-dignified chain restaurant sets up in there, like maybe some kind of steakhouse. And that's the best case. It would probably end up as something worse.
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  #109  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:08 PM
buzzg buzzg is offline
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I don't understand a lot of the "semi-abandoned" sentiment toward the Millennium Centre. There's weddings and events there quite frequently. Sure WOW! isn't the most exciting operator, but the space is fairly well used.

One problem with it though is the sound is absolutely atrocious. Can't really hear any amplified music. BMO would likely have the same issue. I also agree a restaurant wouldn't be the worst use of the space.
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  #110  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:19 PM
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I don't understand a lot of the "semi-abandoned" sentiment toward the Millennium Centre. There's weddings and events there quite frequently. Sure WOW! isn't the most exciting operator, but the space is fairly well used.

One problem with it though is the sound is absolutely atrocious. Can't really hear any amplified music. BMO would likely have the same issue. I also agree a restaurant wouldn't be the worst use of the space.
I say semi-abandoned in that there have been no renovations done to the place... it was basically left in state in 1969 and the office space, etc. all has the air of an abandoned building.

I mean, it's great that the building is used from time to time and that the place is still heated and secured, etc., but it's pretty well the opposite of 'highest and best use'.

A restaurant wouldn't be the worst use for the BMO banking hall but it sure wouldn't be the best use either. Maybe one of the credit unions can step in and save it and keep using it as a banking hall space...
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  #111  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:46 PM
buzzg buzzg is offline
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To me a restaurant is a much higher use of the space than a bank. Way more people (different) people would access it on a regular basis.
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  #112  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2019, 7:52 PM
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To me a restaurant is a much higher use of the space than a bank. Way more people (different) people would access it on a regular basis.
Having a long-tenured bank office like BMO conveys importance and prestige way more than having a Ruth's Steakhouse or whatever else would possibly set up shop in there.

I mean, they could put a McDonald's/Tim's combo in there and blow every other possible user out of the water in terms of foot traffic, but it isn't really something that would impress anyone...
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  #113  
Old Posted Sep 20, 2019, 1:51 PM
CoryB CoryB is offline
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I will start by saying I am not well experienced in sizing commercial spaces. That said the BMO hall seems too large to be a restaurant space, even if you put in some style of open kitchen. A closed off kitchen would be a horrible fit and even an open kitchen would be difficult with the required ventilation and fire suppression it would needed.

The best case might be a large event space with a supporting kitchen close by but not in the main hall. The challenge is are there enough large events to make it worth someone's time.
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  #114  
Old Posted Sep 21, 2019, 8:50 PM
borkborkbork borkborkbork is offline
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Is the BMO move consolidating their current Newport Centre space? Wonder who will take that over (especially since the Newport Centre is being fixed up).

I'm not sure why people are so worked up about retail branches closing from a health-of-downtown perspective. As long as it doesn't go unoccupied, banks are not very exciting tenants. Nobody goes downtown for a bank branch, bank branches don't bring street activity, they close early, there's no positive spillovers (nobody leases a space based on proximity to a retail bank)...
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  #115  
Old Posted Sep 21, 2019, 9:00 PM
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Wpg_Guy Wpg_Guy is offline
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Originally Posted by borkborkbork View Post
Is the BMO move consolidating their current Newport Centre space? Wonder who will take that over (especially since the Newport Centre is being fixed up).

I'm not sure why people are so worked up about retail branches closing from a health-of-downtown perspective. As long as it doesn't go unoccupied, banks are not very exciting tenants. Nobody goes downtown for a bank branch, bank branches don't bring street activity, they close early, there's no positive spillovers (nobody leases a space based on proximity to a retail bank)...
BMO is vacating the Newport Centre, consolidating to 201 Portage. Next up for Newport is the podium renewal they will be trying to land a restaurant tenant in a new renovated expanded space.
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