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$30M redevelopment for Manulife Place in Edmonton

Less than a week after luxury retailer Holt Renfrew closed its store at Manulife Place in downtow...

IMAGE: Manulife Place tower in Edmonton will get a $30-million redevelopment. (Courtesy Manulife)

Manulife Place tower in Edmonton will get a $30-million redevelopment. (Courtesy Manulife)

Less than a week after luxury retailer Holt Renfrew closed its store at Manulife Place in downtown Edmonton, the owner of the 36-storey tower announced plans for a $30-million redevelopment that includes a 45,000-square-foot rooftop terrace.

Manulife Place, which was completed in 1983 and sits at the corner of 102 Avenue and 101 Street in the heart of downtown Edmonton, encompasses 745,000 square feet of office space and another 103,000 square feet of retail. It’s situated less than two blocks away from the massive ICE District mixed-use development.

“The City of Edmonton is undergoing a renaissance that will breathe life into its downtown service and amenity offerings,” said Ted Willcocks, Manulife Investment Management’s global head of asset management, real estate.

“The repositioning of Manulife Place is integral to this evolution and we are excited to be a part of redefining the community.

“This was always one of the original mixed-use projects in Edmonton. It’s been extremely well-leased both on the retail and the office.”

Redevelopment to take 18 months

Willcocks said construction on the redevelopment will begin mid-2020 and take about 18 months for completion.

He said Manulife is constantly evaluating all of its projects across the country. After 30 years of service, it’s time to modernize Manulife Place.

“We’re trying to give our tenants and our customers in Edmonton more enhanced offerings . . . so lighter, brighter retail,” Willcocks explained. “A different mix of retail. Hopefully some other offerings. Different food and beverage. Different merchandising for retailers.

“Every property, at some time, comes to a time when it needs rejuvenation. We just had one here (Toronto) at Manulife Centre, (a) $100-million rejuvenation where we placed Canada’s first Eataly.

“This is really a continuation of that program across the country of enhancing all of our mixed-use projects. 

“We operate properties in 26 cities around the world. We’re constantly evaluating our assets and looking at places where we can add value and rejuvenate the offerings to both tenants and customers. So, it’s an ongoing process throughout the portfolio.”

The Manulife Centre project in Toronto has been completed.

The Manulife Place project

Key elements of the redevelopment at Edmonton’s Manulife Place will include:

* a major modernization of the exterior façade with multi-level transparent glazing and bright, new signage;

* a repositioning of the retail storefronts to the exterior of the centre will extend the shopping experience outwards, creating a visually dynamic and engaging streetscape;

* the interior space will be refreshed with new porcelain flooring and LED lighting, as well as the creation of communal spaces;

* a 45,000-square-foot rooftop terrace on the fourth floor will also be constructed, providing an acre of fully landscaped parkland in the heart of downtown Edmonton — an amenity exclusive to Manulife Place.

The building features two levels of retail shops and services and is occupied by long-standing retailers such as Vandenberg’s Jewellers, Blu’s, Jamiesons Opticians and Henry Singer.

Anchoring downtown Edmonton’s vast pedway system, Manulife Place is prominently connected to the city’s business community and will soon be accessible via the LRT’s Southeast Valley Line.

Manulife is actively exploring various options for the former Holt Renfrew space. The design concept can accommodate a variety of different uses and can easily be adapted to accommodate retail and food opportunities.

Edmonton’s downtown rejuvenation

In recent years, Edmonton’s downtown core has seen a rejuvenation with the addition of the ICE District, which includes the Rogers Place arena as well as towers which include office, residential, hotel and retail uses.

“It’s really exciting to see people investing in the downtown and creating sort of a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week environment with hotels, sports and entertainment offerings . . . very exciting,” said Willcocks.

In 2018, Manulife Place was the first in Edmonton to receive Wired Gold Certification for its best-in-class building connectivity. It is also BOMA BEST Certified and, most recently, received LEED EB Gold recertification.

Manulife Place is jointly owned by Manulife and Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). Manulife was the original developer of the property and AIMCo joined as a partner several years ago.

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