Only creative developers need apply

Managing Partner and Senior Sales Associate , ICR Commercial Real Estate
  • Jun. 10, 2015

Barry StuartSaskatoon has a reputation in North America for raising creative leaders with a strong work ethic.

We have a healthy arts community and there have been a number of recent examples of innovative new and infill residential developments.

But there are few innovative commercial examples. Why do you think we’re lacking in this area?

Where did they get it right?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Two people can argue whether a building design is attractive or ugly. It’s easier to reach a consensus on the creativity of a project, whether you like it or hate it.

Feel free to call me biased, but it won’t change my opinion of an extraordinary new office building we’re marketing called Timber Pointe on Queen. Duco Developments had the courage to develop this upscale office building that can be described as a nod to West Coast style and charm.

It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen in Saskatoon.

The Remai Modern Art Gallery got it right. Its landmark location on the riverbank in the heart of our city is an ideal spot to showcase this award-winning design.

Undoubtedly one of the most interesting pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen is Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. To me, it’s a work of art. It left an impression upon me that will never be forgotten.

Where did they get it wrong?

Would you like to see a great example of an industrial-looking building in a new retail development? Drive by Motion Fitness on Betts Avenue in Saskatoon’s Blairmore district. It’s a great of example of what you get when you try to save money and lack vision.

To be fair, the $122-million Saskatoon police station that was completed in 2014 had some design challenges to fit with the nearby warehouse district and the historic industrial buildings that remain in the area. I believe, however, that it would be easy to mistake this for a 20-year old development.

When comparing Saskatoon’s more recent commercial construction with that of other Western Canadian cities, we have a way to go.


It’s easy to argue that higher rental rates in other cities free more money to be spent on architectural design than in Saskatoon. I believe it has more to do with a lack of willingness to be different, bold and to step outside the box.

It simply takes more patience and time to explore the options out there. It doesn’t always mean “reinventing the wheel.” Plenty of examples of cost-effective, innovative construction can be found in many other cities throughout our increasingly smaller global village.

Will things change?

I believe things are changing. We’re travelling more and sharing information at a speed that’s rapidly increasing. Our city is growing and, along with that growth, we’re seeing the migration of people from all over the world with new ideas and a desire to invest in our future.

Do you believe?

Born in small town Saskatchewan, I began my real estate career in Saskatoon at a really early age in 1978. Although I can’t claim to be No 1 in North…

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Born in small town Saskatchewan, I began my real estate career in Saskatoon at a really early age in 1978. Although I can’t claim to be No 1 in North…

Read more

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