New office tower design unveiled

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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John Lindsay, president of East Port Properties, speaks Thursday about 351 Water St., the new office building being developed by the company. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

“Out of the ashes” could aptly describe a new six-storey office tower, estimated to cost more than $50 million, proposed for 351 Water St. in downtown St. John’s.

Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff says the building, to be constructed by East Port Properties Ltd. between Water Street and Harbour Drive, will be on a site that was once actually part of the city’s harbour.

When two great fires destroyed many of the wooden buildings in the downtown core in 1846 and 1892, Duff said the city shovelled up the debris and dumped it in this area, filling in part of the harbour.

The harbour was much bigger then and Water Street was the end of St. John’s, Duff said.

“The beaches actually came up to where the Magic Wok is now.”

The site was most recently used as a Woolworth’s department store, but the building had been vacant for years and had become dilapidated.

The new building will be much more elaborate.

Developed by East Port Properties Ltd. and designed by PHB Group, it will include a 165,000 square-foot office tower above retail and commercial space and a 446-car parking garage, which will include 246 public spaces.

It will also be the first seawater heated and cooled building in the province, tapping into the seawater beneath the property.

Duff said it will likely be quite an engineering feat for the developer to get down to bedrock and to the ocean and build such a large office tower and parking garage on top of the site.

Duff said the old Woolworth’s site was “crying out for development for many years” and had become “kind of a blight on the downtown.”

“That location also expands what our concept of the downtown is, it has brought development further west,” she said.

Duff said the development has already been a catalyst for three  or  four other clusters of Class A office or hotel developments which, she said, “is generally what happens. You get one big one and others follow.”

She’s pleased with the plan to have retail space on the ground floor, which will attract people to the west end of the downtown. A combination of public metered and permit parking should help address downtown parking issues, especially when there are events at Mile One.

It was too wet to hold an official groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site Thursday, but representatives from East Port Properties and the city announced the start of the project at the St. John’s Convention Centre.

It’s said to be the first new office building downtown in more than 25 years.

John Lindsay, president of East Port Properties, said his company also manages Scotia Centre which was the last large office building built downtown.

The completion date for the new building, dubbed “351” because of its address on Water Street, is 2013.

Lindsay said the heating and cooling will be provided using the tide water that still moves in and out beneath the building.

“We’ve done seawater cooling before where we put a pipe out into the harbour. In this one, the harbour is coming to us — it’s just the nature of the site,” Lindsay said.

“It has both a cost benefit, because you’re using free cooling, you’re not running a machine using electricity to create cooling or heat, and you also are just letting that go back to the harbour virtually untouched.”

Anyone can rent office space in the building, Lindsay said, and it has already attracted interest from the oil and gas sector.

The company expects tenants will begin moving into the building in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Organizations: East Port Properties, PHB Group, Convention Centre.It

Geographic location: Water Street, St. John’s.Deputy Mayor

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Recent comments

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    October 29, 2011 - 11:35

    There is one line in this press release that the city of St. John's should hang their heads in shame - This is the first new office building to be built in 25 YEARS! Totally unacceptable!

  • D. Berghuis
    October 28, 2011 - 18:52

    This design puts Atlantic Place to shame, which is not a difficult feat. I think the building will add to the low level skyline of the waterfront. Progress is slow...fact of life, unless you are a sheikh with more money than brains.

  • M. Murphy
    October 28, 2011 - 12:25

    Why is it ugly? It is 100% better than the eye sore it is replacing. What is ugly is the backward thinking of people who continue to stand in the way of developing our city to its maximum potential. Downtown is slowly starting to become revitalized however the original Fortis plan should have went ahead. Time to get rid of rat infested eyesores and clean up the downtown. This council is too slow in making things happen and while they stumble we the tax payers have to pony up money that could have been collected from previous non-approved progressive building proposals.

    • Luke
      October 28, 2011 - 21:32


  • AJ
    October 28, 2011 - 08:59

    John Smith, you are part of the reason our downtown core is such a hole. We need to advance and beautify our downtown core. It seems every proposal brought forth is rejected. Get with the times people! Halifax has a beautiful harbor front – it’s time we strive for that too. Our downtown core has much potential if people would just get out of the dark ages and allow new buildings!!!

  • axle
    October 28, 2011 - 08:58

    6 story building is not a office tower you need to get out more

  • Saucy Face
    October 28, 2011 - 08:56

    So after all these years, we finally see what Shannie, Peg Norman and Greg Malone have been holding the downtown hostage for. Uh, huh.

  • Jerome
    October 28, 2011 - 08:33

    Only in St. John's, would a six story building be considered a "tower".

  • Chantal
    October 28, 2011 - 08:03

    Queue John Smith's inevitable whining about Ms. Duff, Peg Norman, hippies, downtowners, and anyone who doesn't wear t suit and tie in the shower; and how the Fortis monolith would have made us a new super race if we only had the sense to do as we're told.

  • John Smith
    October 28, 2011 - 07:43

    An ugly, ugly building that should never have been passed. Not to mention the city gave this guy 10 million dollars of our money to make it even uglier. A street level parking garage? I mean really.

    • man
      October 28, 2011 - 08:11

      @JOHSMITH why should it not pass? You want to keep St. John's in the DARK AGES? It's people like you crying about new jobs, development that would rather keep NL and St. john's as a second rate city. get real. It's pathetic there has not been any new DT development for 25 years and we wonder why people LEAVE for work.... Get with the times. PS: How do you know it's ugly you see it?

    • Michelle
      October 28, 2011 - 09:00

      Great news! The city will benefit from this development and the 246 public parking spaces are much needed!