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ICE District tower shelved, CWB to move to Manulife Place

Edmonton's ongoing office sector slowdown causes postponement of planned 16-storey tower

A rendering of the renovated Manulife Place tower in Edmonton. (Courtesy Manulife, AIMCo)
A rendering of the renovated Manulife Place tower in Edmonton. (Courtesy Manulife, AIMCo)

CWB Financial Group (CWB-T) will move its national headquarters to the soon-to-be renovated 36-storey Manulife Place in downtown Edmonton, in the wake of a decision by ICE District Properties to delay construction of a 16-storey office tower which it was planning to move into.

CWB had announced in February 2022 it would be the anchor tenant in the ICE District building, taking 12 floors in the planned tower.

However, with Edmonton’s office sector continuing to experience high vacancy the sector has shifted since that announcement.

"Moving to Manulife Place maintains Edmonton as our home and the prominent role that CWB has within the city's downtown business community," Chris Fowler, president and CEO of CWB Financial Group, said in the announcement. "It's a building that will bear the CWB name and signage, and it represents an economically positive decision. 

“Our employees will continue to benefit from nearby amenities, while enjoying building modernizations that reflect the future of work and enhance our outstanding culture. I look forward to CWB's continued contributions to attract more businesses to Edmonton's downtown.”

CWB gets naming rights for Manulife Place

The decision not to proceed with the ICE District tower “reflects the challenging macroeconomic landscape, which includes higher vacancy rates in downtown locations, compounded by the impacts of rising interest rates and construction cost inflation” CWB states in the announcement.

"ICE District Properties and CWB remain strong financial partners, mutually committed to the City of Edmonton,” Tim Shipton, executive vice-president, ICE District Properties, said in the announcement.

“We are grateful to CWB for its understanding and we remain committed to building upon the foundation that ICE District has created in our downtown. We will have more to share in the near future."

The announcement includes naming rights and crown signage for CWB at the 10180 101 St NW Manulife Place property. 

CWB's 103rd Street Banking Centre will also move into the building.

Owners Manulife and Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) had announced $30 million in renovations at the facility, a project that began in 2020. 

$30 million in planned upgrades

The Manulife and AIMCo upgrades were to include a modernization of the exterior façade with multi-level transparent glazing and new signage.

Retail storefronts were to be repositioned to the exterior of the centre and interior space was to be refreshed with a 45,000-square-foot rooftop terrace, new flooring, LED lighting, and the addition of communal spaces.

CWB says it will also be making modifications for its space, with an eye to moving in during the latter part of 2025.

Financial terms and lease details were not disclosed.

Manulife Place includes 745,000 square feet of office and 103,000 square feet of retail space.

It featuring two levels of retail shops and services and is one of the anchor properties for the downtown Edmonton 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.

In 2018, Manulife Place was the first in Edmonton to receive its Wired Gold Certification for its best in class building connectivity.

It is also BOMA BEST Certified and, most recently, received its LEED EB Gold recertification demonstrating a significant and ongoing focus on excellence in real estate sustainability and design.

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