GM Place tower could be Canucks Central

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Cowtown for inspiration?

Ben Kuzma

Proposed Orca Bay tower (right) would add needed office space to the downtown core.

New 22-storey Orca Bay tower will be connected to GM Place and be environmentally friendly. It’s slated for completion in fall, 2010. — IMAGES PROVIDED BY VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Call it the Tower of Power.

When the Vancouver Arena Limited Partnership unveils its 22-storey office structure in the fall of 2010, the state-of-the-art building connected to GM Place will be hailed for its environmentally friendly design and function.

For Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, it will also provide another revenue stream. Aside from addressing a downtown need for leased office space — the vacancy rate is just 3.5 per cent — there’s an opportunity for the Vancouver Canucks to better service their fans.

Not only will the tower connect to the concourse level of GM Place to provide more retail, food and beverage options, there’s potential for much more.

Earlier this month, Canucks CEO Chris Zimmerman visited Flames Central in downtown Calgary and was impressed.

The renovated 86-year-old theatre on the Stephen Ave. Mall boasts casual and upscale dining and a sports club on three levels that seats 1,000. There are 150 high-definition TVs and a 30-by-20-foot projection screen.

There are separate booths and even private rooms with bars and, of course, Flames merchandise to purchase.

Imagine something similar in the Tower of Power. It would be like being at the game and provide another option for those who can’t afford tickets gobbled up by the corporate community.

That was part of the Calgary concept.

“You feel like you’re in an arena and it’s branded throughout,” Zimmerman says of Flames Central. “I do like the concept and it’s one we will look at.

“We’re in the development stage now with retail, food and beverage options.”

For tower tenants, there will be the attractive option of having exclusive access to GM Place and its events.

“The most common business challenge that virtually every business in B.C. has right now is the recruitment of and the retention of employees,” says Zimmerman. “In a highly competitive market, you will go into our building that provides one of the best work spaces and is environmentally conscious.

“It will have all the bells and whistles and the city needs it. There are plenty of new condos and residential housing, but nobody is actually serving the business market. It will continue to thrive, but it needs more office space.”

Ground-breaking for the 311,738-square-foot tower, located in the southwest corner of the property, is expected in the new year. Architect Peter Busby says the structure is a modern-day marriage of form and function.

“I’m confident this will be one of Vancouver‘s signature office towers, in part because of its GM Place location, but also because of its green focus,” says Busby.

“We’re very proud to have designed a beautiful-looking building that will also be among the most energy-efficient commercial buildings in North America.”

The tower will boast exceptional energy performance and a carbon-neutral environment. That will be created by using energy synergies between the structure and GM Place.

The office tower will use part of GM Place‘s underground parking, which is occupied mostly during evening events. Heating and cooling systems between the two buildings will work together with waste heat from one building used to heat the other.

© The Vancouver Province 2007


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