Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Downtown Office Tower?

Possible site of new tower behind 360 Main Street?

The original vision of 360 Main Street aka Trizec building

Negotiations are underway with one developer for Western Financial Group's consolidation of four Winnipeg offices.

Here is where they are presently located:

High River, Alta.-based Western Financial Groups's four Winnipeg business units:

Western Life Assurance Company (formerly Federated Life Assurance Company), 717 Portage Ave.

Western Financial Group Insurance Solutions (formerly HED Insurance and Risk Services), an insurance brokerage firm at 717 Portage Ave.

SecuriCan, one of the country's leading pet insurance underwriting companies, at 1200 Portage Ave.

Agrifinance, a farm financing business at 1822 Portage.

Winnipegger's will be more familiar with the names HED Insurance and Federated Insurance, two large insurers that came under the control of Western Financial Group in recent years.

The space the company is looking for is about 70,000 square feet. There are a few location that were shortlisted including the pads at Portage Place, above Winnipeg Square, on Broadway or the Brick's building on Lombard Avenue. The only location outside of downtown is just north of Polo Park on the old arena site.

The one site that would be truly sad as far as choices go is the Polo Park site. Obviously, the company will do what is best for its customers but the city as a whole does not benefit from having a doughnut whole for a center.

I am not certain where I would like to see the company locate. My instinct tells me that a large financial company would probably be better near Portage and Main so 360 Main Street and one of its pads looks good.

I can honestly say that any of the downtown locations would be great.

Polo Park is a very busy retail district. In the months leading up to Christmas, it can be bumper to bumper traffic all day long. CJOB has already indicated they will be moving to the area. Given their cramped location on Portage Avenue, the radio station most likely thinks it is better to have the space and the parking and not worry about the traffic.

Western Financial Group has been expanding quickly over the last years. A three story building around Polo Park might not be big enough for them in five years. Building downtown might be building for the future.

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