A five-year-old Regina development policy that restricts larger office buildings to the city’s core has failed to ignite a downtown revival, according to a leading commercial realtor.
Barry Stuart of Stuart Commercial Inc. in Saskatoon, who moderated the office panel at April’s Saskatchewan Real Estate Forum, said only one of five office panellists spoke in favour of Regina’s office policy.
The policy, implemented in July 2012, does not permit major office projects of more than 43,000 square feet of floor space outside of the core area, except in limited circumstances.
Stuart, who stressed that he was speaking as an individual, not as a company representative, said Regina’s primary goal was to create a more vibrant downtown in the capital city.
“I certainly don’t see it,” he said. “Drive around Regina’s city centre and you’ll see what I mean. [It] might have one block that could be considered a retail zone for smaller merchants whereas Saskatoon has at least six that form the heartbeat of the city.”
Within Regina’s office market, 82 per cent is downtown and 18 per cent is suburban. In Saskatoon, only 68 per cent of the total office space is downtown, “and yet Saskatoon’s core is far more vibrant than Regina’s,” he said.
Stuart recommends that Regina “stop the nonsense about limiting where offices can be built” and concentrate instead on incentives for grocery stores and other retail to help “attract high-density, multi-family development” into the downtown core.