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CWB bank to anchor new Edmonton ICE District office tower

CWB Financial Group (Canadian Western Bank) will be moving its corporate head office into a new 1...

IMAGE: CWB Financial Group will move its HQ in Edmonton to a new 16-storey ICE District office tower. (Courtesy CWB Financial Group)

CWB Financial Group will move its HQ in Edmonton to a new 16-storey ICE District office tower. (Courtesy CWB Financial Group)

CWB Financial Group (Canadian Western Bank) will be moving its corporate head office into a new 16-storey tower to be completed in 2025 in Edmonton’s growing and thriving downtown ICE District.

Chris Fowler, chief executive officer of CWB, told RENX the move into the new space will accommodate future growth plans for the financial institution.

CWB will be the anchor tenant in the ICE District’s last available tower that overlooks ICE Plaza.

“We researched what the future of work looks like and what we’re looking for is a space that gives us the flexibility to structure a workplace that really fits what our employees are looking for,” said Fowler. “We’re a growing company and we expect to have increasing numbers of people that work for us directly and what this new opportunity provides us is room for expansion.”

Currently, CWB’s headquarters is in the Canadian Western Bank Place tower at Jasper Avenue and 103rd Street. The company has been in that building since 1995, growing from two floors to 12 floors in about 150,000 square feet.

“From an expansion perspective, it’s worked well for us,” said Fowler, adding the total bank staff comprises about 2,600, with 1,200 employees in the corporate office in Edmonton.

CWB’s move to ICE District

Fowler said occupancy in the new tower, which will be named after the company, is expected in January 2026. 

“We have the main floor which will be a branch. There will be a mezzanine lobby area that connects to the building next door. The total square footage is 200,000,” he said, adding that office space will be over nine floors.  

“We have a fairly small floor plate on our current building and the new one has a larger floor plate which then gives you more options on how you can configure your floor and use it.”  

CWB is a full-service financial institution with a strategic focus to meet the financial needs of businesses and their owners. It was founded 38 years ago by local entrepreneurs and has grown to $1 billion in annual revenue.

ICE District offers a number of amenities, including nearby restaurants, retail, public plaza, fitness facilities and grocer, 3,000 new underground parking stalls, close proximity to LRT, and access to downtown’s pedway network.

Flexible workspaces and fluid design will hallmark the street-level banking centre, second-floor lobby and office floors above. Designed to LEED Gold and WELL Gold Standards, the tower will also maintain a focus on environmentally sustainable building standards.

The growing ICE District

ICE District is the largest mixed-use sports and entertainment district in Canada. ICE District Properties, a mixed-use development surrounding Rogers Place and Ford Hall, is being developed through a Katz Group and ONE Properties joint venture.

It includes the JW Marriott (hotel), Sky Residences (luxury condos), Sky Signature Suites (luxury rentals), The Legends Private Residences (luxury condos atop the Marriott), Grand Villa Casino and the Stantec and Edmonton office towers.

“It’s a great new development and it’s sort of become the core of Edmonton,” said Fowler. “It’s moved further north from Jasper Avenue.

“But, it’s a concentration of very desirable amenities with Rogers Place, with the JW Marriott hotel, with the Stantec building, with the other facilities being developed in there in terms of restaurants, food fare, a square in the middle.

“It’s just becoming a very new focal point for downtown Edmonton . . . I expect to see more residential building being built, getting more activity in the downtown. Long-term it’s a real positive and it creates real community.”

Option to increase tower height

Tim Shipton, executive vice-president of ICE District, said there is also the option add two to five additional floors to the tower as the market dictates.

“We will retain ownership of the building. CWB will be obviously our anchor tenant in that space. It will be our tower to own,” said Shipton. “This is going to be the last tower going up in Phase 1 of ICE District.

“Certainly it’s been an incredible journey since 2013 when we broke ground on Rogers Place as the anchor amenity of ICE District. From 2013 to today, we’ve built over a million square feet of office space, we’ve got a significant diverse retail offering, we’ve got a 256-room hotel, we’ve got approximately 750 residential units, we’ve got about a 2,500-unit parkade. 

“Of course Stantec Tower, being the tallest tower west of Toronto (66 storeys), the JW Marriott tower and now this beautiful new building on the west side of the development, which for those folks who have been in Edmonton awhile will recall at one point was the old Greyhound bus depot.

“Just an absolute, remarkable transformation from what that space was eight short years ago.”

Final stages of phase one

Shipton said more is planned for the ICE District in the future. He said a major focus for this year and beyond is getting people back to the downtown core following two years of the pandemic. The CWB announcement, he added, shows confidence in Edmonton coming out of the pandemic. 

“In the near term, we’ve got the public plaza which has opened up, we’ve got a skating rink built right into the plaza and we’re going to be programming that extensively. The concert business is coming back significantly and we’ve announced 10 shows in the last month.

“So a lot of pent-up demand on that front and certainly in the hockey business. ICE District is obviously about the entertainment but it’s also about having those anchor partners on a day-to-day basis coming in,” he said.

“Later this year, into the fall really, probably in conjunction with the hockey season, we’ve got a Loblaw City Market which is going to be opening up, a flagship Icehouse from the Brewhouse franchise, along with another amenity called the Banquet. We’re going to be getting some of those hospitality and lifestyle amenities on board here in 2022. 

“2022 is about completing the vision for Phase 1 and then from a longer lens perspective, we are starting the development plans for Phase 2 for ICE District, which is a heavy residential component.”

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