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  #61  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2012, 10:09 PM
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From the Record:

Quote:
Developer drops out of civic centre project
By Theresa McManus, The Record
March 30, 2012

In the fall of 2010, the City of New Westminster selected the Uptown Property Group as the developer to collaborate with on the multi-use civic facility project that's being built at the corner of Eighth and Columbia streets. The Uptown Property Group had proposed to build a 100,000-square-foot office tower above the city's 80,000-to 85,000-square-foot civic facility.

"We are no longer involved in the pro- ject," said Bart Slotman, vice-president of Uptown Property Group. "We stepped out of it for business reasons. I don't want to get into the details of that."

.....

"What it means is we are currently searching for a new partner," said Coun. Bill Harper. "It's been going on for the last few months."

...

"We are going to look at the options we have available," said city administrator Paul Daminato. "When we have a better idea what options we are going to have, we will have a better idea of the financial implications, if any."

...

Although Uptown Property Group is no longer partnering with the city to build the office tower, Daminato is confident that an office tower can still be built at the site. He said it's a great opportunity for a developer to get involved in a "great project" that has a "great design."

"There is still that option available," he told The Record. "Other partners are pushing us. We are talking to some other interested parties."

The City of New Westminster is building a $35-million multiuse civic facility with casino funds known as development assistance compensation. The four-way agreement, which was signed by the City of New Westminster, the B.C. Lotteries Corporation, the provincial government and Starlight Casino, states that the project must be completed by Dec. 31, 2013.

In 2010, the city launched an expression of interest process indicating its desire to partner with a developer.

The proposal from UPG was the only submission that offered office and employment-generating market uses.

The city's portion of the civic centre will include a 350-seat theatre with flexible seating to accommodate a variety of productions, conference and meeting space, art studios, an art gallery, tourist information centre and the city's museum and the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

The City of New Westminster held a groundbreaking ceremony for the civic centre in September 2010. The first stage of construction included underground site servicing, excavation of the underground parkade and shoring of the excavation walls for three levels of underground parking.

Daminato said work on the multi-use civic centre project is proceeding as planned.

"They are still finishing off the excavation work that had to be done. There is some additional shoring that needs to be done," he said. "Tenders are out for the first part of the construction. We are anticipating staying on schedule."

tmcmanus@royalcityrecord.com

© Copyright (c) New West Record
http://www.royalcityrecord.com/busin...766/story.html
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  #62  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2012, 10:24 PM
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Sooooo, what happens, they are only going to build the low rise civic centre portion then????

This design is now dead after all the hoop jumping?

Or will it continue as is in the hope of finding another partner?
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  #63  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2012, 11:51 PM
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Sooooo, what happens, they are only going to build the low rise civic centre portion then????

This design is now dead after all the hoop jumping?

Or will it continue as is in the hope of finding another partner?
It looks dead (except for the civic centre) unless they can find the other partner somehow. And we all know unless that partner is Oxford Properties or Ivanhoe Cambridge, no office developer will build it unless its substantially pre-leased. This must be some kind of curse wherein cool office building designs go through such a long process, only to be killed eventually.....sigh...

This wasn't the first cool office building to be killed in New West though. The waterfront was suppose to have a nice twin tower one (recalling from an old model that I saw) and one of their malls uptown that has condos in it was suppose to have an office component as well....
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  #64  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2012, 11:56 PM
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Hopefully the office component can be built as a second phase.
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  #65  
Old Posted May 1, 2012, 9:26 PM
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Hopefully the office component can be built as a second phase.
Nuts to that!!! Office components in second phases usually mean never gonna happen...

Anyways, some good news regarding this project!!

http://www.vancouversun.com/business...057/story.html

Quote:
The City of New Westminster will be developing the $94-million downtown project which will include an office tower above its future civic centre and underground parking.
Quote:
Having deemed the office tower to be of such critical importance to downtown revitalization and economic development, the city announced Monday that it would be taking on the project itself.
Quote:
(Coun. Bill) Harper believes the risk is worth it, given the "huge returns," such as the creation of 500 new jobs.

"In my view, this is a game changer for the downtown. It is a game changer for the city. It is a game changer for the street," said Harper.
This is how cities and developers should see what office towers are. Not as some risky economic asset that can only be built with secured tenants but an opportunity to do some good to your cities and the economy!

Kudos to New West for having such a great vision and taking on this project!
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  #66  
Old Posted May 1, 2012, 9:43 PM
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That is awesome news! And yes, this was a good decision by the city, the office tower here on this project is essential and I am sure they will have no problem finding tenants with such a great location.
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  #67  
Old Posted May 2, 2012, 5:32 AM
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Well, some risk for a civic govt to take, but a strategic move by new west. Locally and recently we have had successes projects beng agents of change to a neighourhood,with woodwards and sfu surrey, althought the latter had to take a few years before whalley saw dividends with it serving as a magnet for change.

Of note, New West was able to proceed financially with this mainly b/c of the starlight casino providing civic revenue.
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  #68  
Old Posted May 2, 2012, 3:25 PM
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Nothing like a government speculating on office development with tax money.

Not exact comparison, but reminders of ICBC and Surrey City Centre come to mind.
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  #69  
Old Posted May 2, 2012, 3:55 PM
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So let's see, the City puts out an RFP and gets only one response. The winning group, which incidentally is an experienced developer that knows the New Westminster market very well, decides after spending a considerable amount of time and money on it, that the office tower isn't viable, even with the City sharing the risk. So the logical thing for the City to do would be to take all of the risk and push it forward themselves? Lol.

I'll just say I'm glad I don't live in New West. I know a lot of the office tower fanboys on here love spec development, but how many of you would put your own money in this project?
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  #70  
Old Posted May 2, 2012, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by phesto View Post
So let's see, the City puts out an RFP and gets only one response. The winning group, which incidentally is an experienced developer that knows the New Westminster market very well, decides after spending a considerable amount of time and money on it, that the office tower isn't viable, even with the City sharing the risk. So the logical thing for the City to do would be to take all of the risk and push it forward themselves? Lol.

I'll just say I'm glad I don't live in New West. I know a lot of the office tower fanboys on here love spec development, but how many of you would put your own money in this project?
I would if I have the opportunity. I think its a great opportunity for the city and will return big dividends not just to the neighbourhood, but also to the residents and taxpayers of New Westminster.

With regards to Central City, just look at it. It is the cataclyst that is helping revitalize a very run down area of Metro Vancouver, and no one can deny its impact both economically and to the community.

So what if it was empty for a few years, the Empire State Building in NYC was nearly empty for 30 YEARS, so much so it turned the nickname "Empty State Building". But no one is calling that a failed tower, right? Petronas was half empty for years too, but look at it now.

Its a simple fact....if you build it, they will come. I don't think there is a decently built office tower that remained empty forever. As long as there is population growth, as long as there is economic growth, any office tower that is built will get filled up. Its as simple as that.

I'm glad Ivanhoe Cambridge is moving along with MetroTower 3...aren't they the same developer who built this huge 50+ storey office tower in Calgary purely on spec during the time Encana and others were going to flood the market, with millions upon millions of unclaimed office space.....starting during the time of the 2008 financial crisis? Look at them now..
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  #71  
Old Posted May 2, 2012, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by queetz@home View Post
Its a simple fact....if you build it, they will come. I don't think there is a decently built office tower that remained empty forever. As long as there is population growth, as long as there is economic growth, any office tower that is built will get filled up. Its as simple as that.
And here's where a little history helps: the pioneering person who takes that risks and builds the project loses their shirt. Someone comes in and picks it up for pennies on the dollar and they eventually might get a decent return.

The real estate industry has a wonderfully politically-incorrect phrase for this phenomenon: the pioneers get the arrows, and the settlers get the land.

In the case of this project, do you want the taxpayer being the pioneer, especially since the private sector has said no thanks?
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  #72  
Old Posted May 2, 2012, 10:26 PM
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And here's where a little history helps: the pioneering person who takes that risks and builds the project loses their shirt. Someone comes in and picks it up for pennies on the dollar and they eventually might get a decent return.

The real estate industry has a wonderfully politically-incorrect phrase for this phenomenon: the pioneers get the arrows, and the settlers get the land.

In the case of this project, do you want the taxpayer being the pioneer, especially since the private sector has said no thanks?
In the case of this project, yes. Its not like a certain project (cough..Olympic Village) in a certain city (cough....Vancouver) that was bailed out by a certain civic party (cough....the NPA) at taxpayers expense. Sadly, I can't say I'm glad I don't live in that city, because I am now paying for something that is quite useless, shoddily built and whose cost was imposed behind close doors and totally against our will. I'm glad those people who made it happen are no longer running the city and my only recourse is to help ensure that party never goes to power again.

However, unlike shoddily built overpriced condos, an office tower offers tangible benefits to the city and community. And as people pointed out, the revenue comes from the casino anyway so there is absolutely little risks for the New West property taxpayer. But even if it is, the bottom line is this office tower, like all decently built office tower, will get filled, make money, and give its owners lots and lots of revenue.
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  #73  
Old Posted May 2, 2012, 10:41 PM
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Calling a building that sits empty for years after it is built a 'success' merely by virtue of the fact that it eventually gets leased up is a fallacy.

You don't need to be a financial genius to figure out that a building that generates little or no revenue for an extended period after it is built is a disaster for whoever invested in it. Even if you accept lower rents to fill up a building it destroys the return.

This is why most developers do pre-leasing, because they want to use the bank's money to finance it - not their own; and the banks do not have the risk tolerance to lend money on the 'build it and they will come' mentality.

I hope this project does well, but again, glad I don't live in New West!
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  #74  
Old Posted May 2, 2012, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by queetz@home View Post

However, unlike shoddily built overpriced condos, an office tower offers tangible benefits to the city and community. And as people pointed out, the revenue comes from the casino anyway so there is absolutely little risks for the New West property taxpayer. But even if it is, the bottom line is this office tower, like all decently built office tower, will get filled, make money, and give its owners lots and lots of revenue.
A bad gamble is a bad gamble, regardless of where the money is coming from.

The same funds could go to other, more viable, projects to improve civic life in New Westminster.

Just because the project is not being financed by debt does not mean that it is "little risk".
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  #75  
Old Posted May 3, 2012, 1:44 AM
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I predict ....

a) City will build this, but the office space will sit empty for a while.

b) City decides 'to save money' and move bureaucrats into this new (empty) space, and sell the old building(s) they are moving out of.

c) by the time everyone realises how much money has been lost on this project, today's councellors and mayor making these decisions will already be out of office.
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  #76  
Old Posted May 3, 2012, 1:47 AM
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Originally Posted by incognism View Post
A bad gamble is a bad gamble, regardless of where the money is coming from.

The same funds could go to other, more viable, projects to improve civic life in New Westminster.

Just because the project is not being financed by debt does not mean that it is "little risk".

I'd agree that it is a gamble, but i think it is a reasonable one.

IMO Richmond took a sizeable risk with taking the olympic oval away from burnaby with what i saw as a last minute plan. They parlayed that into a redvelopment of a moribund waterfront area, payment for oval construction costs and spare change to buy the garden city lands.

what would be 'other, more viable projects to improve civic life in New Westminster'? IMO this is a good use of casino money - mainly for one-time construction costs that are discretionary. Would they need to carry some of its operating costs if leasing is bad? well, that's the gamble.
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  #77  
Old Posted May 3, 2012, 4:12 AM
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gonna put this in here - did anyone read the feature in the georgia straight?

New Westminster's urban revival
http://www.straight.com/article-6696...ity-rebounding
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  #78  
Old Posted May 3, 2012, 3:08 PM
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Originally Posted by queetz@home View Post
I'm glad Ivanhoe Cambridge is moving along with MetroTower 3...aren't they the same developer who built this huge 50+ storey office tower in Calgary purely on spec during the time Encana and others were going to flood the market, with millions upon millions of unclaimed office space.....starting during the time of the 2008 financial crisis? Look at them now..
You're kidding right? A large portion of the upper management got fired due to that project. It was a complete disaster costing SITQ hundreds of millions of dollars.

The only reason it is full now is because it was filled up with tenants at sub-optimal rents just to stop the bleeding.

If you build it they may come, but you may have to lower your rents to convince them to.
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  #79  
Old Posted May 3, 2012, 3:26 PM
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You're kidding right? A large portion of the upper management got fired due to that project. It was a complete disaster costing SITQ hundreds of millions of dollars.

The only reason it is full now is because it was filled up with tenants at sub-optimal rents just to stop the bleeding.

If you build it they may come, but you may have to lower your rents to convince them to.
Exactly. It was a bloodbath at SITQ. Just like it was a bloodbath for ICBC at Surrey City Centre, etc.

MANY years ago, my planning prof really liked the "but what about the market" cold water in the face that I brought to class. So many pie in the sky students out there that have no concept of how the economy/market in which they work functions.
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  #80  
Old Posted May 3, 2012, 6:10 PM
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from the straight article regarding the civic centre - and what the mayor says

Quote:
Meanwhile, on the northwest corner of Columbia and Begbie streets, the city plans to build a 85,000-square-foot civic centre with convention facilities, a 350-seat nonproscenium theatre, an art gallery, and 100,000 square feet of offices. It recently received a setback when the private partner, Uptown Property Group, withdrew after previously proposing to build the office component.

However, in an interview with the Straight in his office at New Westminster City Hall, Mayor Wright remains bullish about the future of the big hole beside the New Westminster SkyTrain station.

“What we’re going to do there is something that makes the city—on that transit line—the exact location for the smaller events to be held,” he says with a smile. “It will be the premier spot in the Lower Mainland.”
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