Posted: Jan 12, 2012, 2:02 PM
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Starfish Espace project on schedule, manager says January 11, 2012 - 8:27pm By REMO ZACCAGNA Business Reporter Flag as offensive 0
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'It’s taking the amount of time we want it to take' — Landry says
Artist's rendering of Starfish Properties' Barrington Espace building. (Contributed)
Contrary to reports, the opening of the Barrington Espace building is not delayed, says the project’s developer.
In its fourth quarter office market review, released earlier this week, Colliers International reported that the opening of the renovated former Sam the Record Man building was being pushed “into the latter half of 2012.”
But Rob Landry, property manager of Starfish Properties, said the company is going at its own pace in the three-year rebuild.
“We don’t look at it as being delayed,” he said Wednesday. “We’re working on our project and it’s taking the amount of time we want it to take.”
If the weather co-operates, the building should be finished sometime in the summer, Landry said.
“We’re not pushing to get this done,” he said. “We’re trying to do the best job on this space that we could possibly can. We’re trying to create a great space and as ideas come along, we’re acting on those opportunities.
“So while we thought we might be ready for spring this year, we’re not going to be ready for spring, we’ll probably be ready in the summertime.”
Pam MacFarlane, research director with Colliers International in Halifax, said she stands by her report. Even though the company says the project is not delayed, the project has not followed the schedule previously indicated by Starfish owner Louis Reznick, she said.
“(A delay is) not the interpretation I’m now getting from Mr. Landry. However, Mr. Reznick at one point had said that it was going to be ready in 2011,” MacFarlane said.
She acknowledged the project is a huge undertaking.
“They’re doing extensive (work). I mean they literally ripped everything out behind the second facade. Plus they have a lot of projects on the go ..... so that is a lot of renovations for one small firm.”
The report indicated the current downtown vacancy rate was 11.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, up from 8.1 per cent the previous quarter. The suburban vacancy rate was 10.4 per cent.
The availability rate for downtown Class A units (defined by the Building Owners and Managers Association as the most prestigious buildings with rents above average for an area) is 13.2 per cent, while the vacancy rate is seven per cent. The availability for Class B units (those that compete for a wide range of users with rents in the average range for the area) is 10.1 per cent, with a vacancy rate at 14.9 per cent.
(The availability rate has elevated in importance over the vacancy rate of late. A fluctuating vacancy rate illustrates the rise and fall of available space over a three-month period, whereas the availability rate shows what is happening in the marketplace over a longer time period.)
Once open, the 35,000-square-foot Espace building will have little impact on the downtown office market vacancy rate because of its size, MacFarlane said.
“To make any significant change in the vacancy rate, you’d have to have a larger absorption of space,” she said. “It will increase inventory and it will increase vacancy probably when it comes on but not significantly at all.”
While the lower vacancy rate in the suburban office market will continue over the first few months of 2012, MacFarlane said it should dissipate over time.
“Some of the western provinces are experiencing some suburban office moving back downtown. Halifax won’t see that for the next year,” she said. “The outlook for 2012 is basically a continuing migration to the suburbs, but I feel it’s going to slow the latter part of the year.”
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By REMO ZACCAGNA Business Reporter