And then there were five.
Ever since the True North Square development was first announced in the summer of 2015 for downtown Winnipeg, it has been a four-building project with an expected capital expenditure of $400 million.
That changed with the recent announcement that Wawanesa Insurance will run its North American operations out of a fifth building, which will be 17 to 19 storeys high with more than 300,000 square feet of space when it opens sometime in 2023.
“We were always looking to keep an open mind to continue to expand our footprint,” said Jim Ludlow, president of True North Real Estate Development.
That being said, there will not be a sixth building.
“This was the last remaining address possible at True North Square,” he said, noting the capital expenditure is estimated to be between $130 million and $150 million.
Located at the southwest corner of Graham Avenue and Carlton Street in Winnipeg’s Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District, the Wawanesa building will be connected to the RBC Convention Centre, Bell MTS Place and the under-construction Sutton Hotel.
Evan Johnston, senior vice-president at Wawanesa, said that, besides altering the skyline, the building also makes sense for the company’s 1,100 employees throughout six different locations to work together under one roof.
The workforce has doubled in the last five years, but the new building, will provide plenty of room for further growth, he said.
Wawanesa owns two of those buildings while it’s a tenant in the other four. Johnson said the company is currently evaluating its options.
“Our business is insurance, not real estate,” he said. “We’ll be there for at least another three years. We’ve been approached unsolicited by several parties.”
The other four buildings at True North Square include a 17-storey office building, which opened last summer, and a 24-storey apartment and commercial building, which welcomed its first residents in late June.