Developer announces plans for James North building
Jack Beume believes $10 million office/retail structure will help improve downtown
Jack Beume says a shovel will be hitting the ground on his James Street North property on June 17 to start building a $10 million office/retail building because he's convinced it will be a great investment in a downtown that's turning around.
A year ago he put a "for lease" sign on his property at James and Vine streets to test the waters. He got the nibbles he was hoping for, and now he says he is going through with the project that's actually $1.5 million more than he initially projected.
"I'm not stupid," the 76-year-old real estate developer says. "I've spent 35 years learning at the altar of money (Bay Street, Toronto). I know how to do this ... I put money where I think it is going to work."
The 31,000-square-foot building, he says, will be three floors with the first floor retail and the other two office space.
He says it's 60 per cent preleased with a major tenant moving into the office space of the building. He won't say who the tenant is, because the company's owners want to make the announcement themselves.
He won't say who his lender is either.
Beume, who owns a dozen buildings around the city, last year paid $325,000 for the vacant lot at 123 James St. N., next to a parking lot he already owned at the corner of James and Vine streets.
By joining the two parcels of land together, he says, he was able to come up with a viable property to construct an office building which he says will have underground parking for 75 cars.
Glen Norton, manager of downtown renewal for the city, says: "I think it is a good thing for the downtown.
"It shows confidence in the downtown. It will provide new office space we haven't had for a while.
"I think it is rather courageous of him at a time when we still have a fairly high office vacancy rate," Norton says.
But he believes that newly constructed office space would appeal to businesses who want something different than the inventory that's out there.
Beume says he'd like to call the building Hamilton House but he figures someone probably has already taken that. Another possibility is 123 James.