The final stage of the market-changing River Landing mixed-use development in Saskatoon is underway.
Excavation work has started on the Nutrien Tower, an 18-storey, 93-metre office tower which will be the tallest building in Saskatchewan when complete.
“We are just about down to the bottom level of parkade where we’ll start pouring pad footings next month. (Then we’ll) start working our way back up,” said Blair Sinclair, Triovest‘s executive vice-president, investments and development, advisors.
River Landing is a three-phase, $300-million, mixed-use complex which includes a hotel, condominiums and two office buildings including the Nutrien Tower.
Toronto-headquartered Triovest is the development manager for the complex and upon completion will become the property manager, Sinclair said.
The Nutrien Tower will be the second office tower at the complex near the western shore of the South Saskatchewan River. Triovest is developing the River Landing complex for Victory Majors Development Corp. and Greystone Managed Investments Inc.
“We provide pension fund advisory services, so we acquired the land on behalf of our client, worked with our client to structure a joint venture relationship with the land owner, and then we oversee design and construction and all the leasing,” Sinclair said.
Triovest is a fully integrated commercial real estate advisory and capital firm with nine offices across Canada. The company has 380 properties worth more than $10 billion under management and $2 billion in properties under development.
Strong lease-up for River Landing
The latest office building is now 60 per cent leased.
“Nutrien is the anchor tenant,” Sinclair said of the massive potash and fertilizer producer and distributor. “They will occupy the top eight floors of an 18-storey structure. It will be the tallest office building in Saskatchewan when completed.”
The other anchor tenant is TD Bank, which will have a main-floor branch and office space on the third floor.
He said the building will also feature 3.5 underground levels of parking. Amenity areas including fitness, conference space and a winter garden on the rooftop for the tenants.
Several other components at River Landing are underway or nearly finished.
Phase 1 includes a newly opened 155-suite ALT Hotel by Le Germain and a separate 25-suite condo building by Urban Capital out of Toronto. The condos will start being turned over to owners during the next few weeks, Sinclair said.
The second phase is the East Tower. It’s a 13-storey, 185,000-square-foot office building with a fitness centre, conference space, restaurants and banks. Construction on the East tower launched in November 2017.
“We are now going to top the structure in the middle of February and the glass is underway as we speak,” Sinclair said. “The first tenants will start fixturing it in summer of 2019 and the building will be fully operational in fall of 2019.”
That building is also 60 per cent leased.
A public plaza being built on the site will complete no later than spring 2020.
New space creates move to quality
When Triovest and its partners launched the River Landing project, the local office vacancy rate was above 16 per cent. It has dropped only slightly since then. More than the space itself, River Landing is focused on the quality of product.
“We saw that the City of Saskatoon was in desperate need of AAA-class office space,” Sinclair said. “There is none of that in the city. The last new building built was in 2010 and we built that one, too. We knew that if we built, there would be a flight to quality and our logic and our strategy has paid off immensely.”
In addition to Nutrien as the anchor in the latest building, Sinclair said the leasing mix includes national and regional brands in legal services, accounting, banking and insurance.
A 60 per cent lease-up at this stage of construction is strong, he said. “Every tenant in that building has come out of a D- or C-class building.”
Although this is creating a tenant shuffle within the city’s office market, Sinclair believes in time that older vacated space will fill up, too.
“Saskatoon is a smaller market. There is a place for that lower class and there is always a tenant for that product class.”