Montreal’s Place Ville Marie will lease approximately 5,110 square metres (55,000 square feet) of office space to law firm Blakes, Cassels & Graydon LLP starting in December 2015.
Blakes’ move to occupy the 30th and part of the 31st floors of the iconic building under a long-term lease at 1 Place Ville Marie is the second major relocation to be announced for the complex owned by Ivanhoé Cambridge this year.
Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés du Québec, the organization that represents Quebec’s chartered professional accountants, leased and moved into 4,857 square metres (52,282 square feet) of office space at 5 Place Ville Marie in March. It now occupies the entire eighth floor and part of the seventh floor.
Business law firm Gowlings, a 30-year tenant, renewed its lease for 5,195 square metres (55,916 square feet) of office space at 1 Place Ville Marie in February.
“Interest is strong”
“Interest is strong and the market is seeing that we’re investing in the property,” says Sébastien Théberge, Ivanhoé Cambridge’s vice-president of public affairs and media relations. “They’re also seeing that after 52 years Place Ville Marie remains the most prestigious and centralized location address in downtown Montreal.”
Blakes’ Montreal office is currently located in suite 2200 at 600 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., and its move is consistent with the growth the company has experienced in “la belle province.”
“Over the past 14 years, Blakes has grown from being a new player in the legal market to a top-of- mind firm in the province of Quebec,” says Montreal managing partner Robert Torralbo. “All of us at Blakes are looking forward to this move with a great deal of enthusiasm.”
Ivanhoé Cambridge, a real estate subsidiary of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, has assets held through multiple subsidiaries located mainly in Canada, the United States, Europe, Brazil and Asia that were valued at more than $40 billion at the end of last year. Its portfolio consists mainly of shopping centres, offices and multi-residential properties.
Ivanhoé Cambridge became the sole owner of Place Ville Marie after acquiring the 50 per cent interest previously held by certain clients of Alberta Investment Management Corp. last year for more than $400 million.
Major modernization program
Place Ville Marie is in the midst of a $100-million modernization program to make significant upgrades that Ivanhoe Cambridge anticipates should soon result in it receiving a LEED Silver certification. In addition to the dramatic views of downtown the building offers, the improvements will offer tenants more flexibility with regards to office design and technology.
“It’s leading the pack in terms of properties in downtown Montreal for meeting the level of expectations for customers and clients in 2014,” says Théberge. “When you look at the other properties downtown, not everybody has been investing that much. It’s been one of our company’s priorities to maintain its leadership position.”
Nearly 10,000 people work at Place Ville Marie’s buildings, which are located on 14 acres (5.6 hectares) of prime real estate. In addition to the signature 188-metre (617 feet) cruciform office tower designed by Henry N. Cobb and I.M. Pei, the complex is also an integral part of Montreal’s “underground city” that houses and links stores, restaurants, businesses, hotels, Metro stations, and bus and train terminals below street level.
Approximately 365,000 people visit Place Ville Marie’s buildings every week.
“Urban experience downtown”
“With our planned program for the (Fairmont) Queen Elizabeth and our retail destinations, we’re going to reinforce even more of the urban experience downtown — whether it’s for users, employers, employees or tourists — because of how these properties interact with each other,” says Théberge.
No specific details have been released, but Ivanhoé Cambridge plans to make major renovations to the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, the province’s largest hotel, and its Sainte-Catherine Street retail properties.
Théberge says the restoration of the Queen Elizabeth will likely be of the same magnitude as the $75-million upgrade of Quebec City’s historic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, which was completed in June.