Starting off bright and early on May 5, 2017, a group of 30 curious ULI Toronto members ventured on a tour to Ontario’s Silicon Valley, the Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) Region. KW has experienced tremendous buzz over the past few years as techies look to this location for inspiration. The Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor is known as a hub for high-growth companies developing breakthrough discoveries with huge investment potential, being home to over 5,000 start-ups, as well as a network of incubators, accelerators, and universities. The ULI tour consisted of a morning walking tour, lunch and afternoon bus tour joined by a few very knowledgeable local players who are making a difference to help make KW a better place to live.
MORNING: WALKING TOUR IN DOWNTOWN KITCHENER
Breithaupt Block Phase I & II
The walking tour began in Downtown Kitchener at Google’s Canadian HQ, the tech giant’s newest and largest office in the country. The group got an inside look at Breithaupt Block’s Phase II adaptive re-use office development by Perimeter and Allied, which is set to open any day now. The Phase II project includes a three-storey glass box addition to the two-storey industrial building offering 100,000 square feet of first class LEED Gold office space to the market. The building is linked to the Phase I development — a 130,000-square-foot brick and beam office space — by an impressive glass sky bridge as shown below.
The Tannery is a mega hub of innovation comprising several start-up incubators. Tenants like Communitech and Velocity Garage were the springboards sorely needed to keep Canada’s tech sector flourishing. The tour group’s morning was a journey within the building, climbing up and down stairs throughout the maze of open concept offices, creative spaces, and meeting nooks. The photos below give an idea of the one-of-a-kind amenities The Tannery offers to its tenants.
The group was surprised to hear of the advantages Google employees benefit from, including a fully stocked kitchen hall, gym, rock climbing wall, pet station, and more. Talk about a balanced workplace! It was difficult to move on with the tour from a place that not only offers unique perks but also underwent such a gorgeous restoration, scooping up two prestigious industry awards in the process (REX and CUI).
Down the road from Breithaupt Block is One Victoria, a new 19-storey, 195-unit condo development by Momentum Developments. Designed by ABA Architects, the building houses units that range in size from 600 to 2,250 square feet and boasts amenities such as a terrace, party room, theatre and gym. Thanks to Momentum Principal Brian Prudham, ULI members were able to get a sneak peek at a brand new penthouse featuring panoramic views of Kitchener’s innovation corridor and nearby future planned transit stop as part of the City’s new 19 km LRT system connecting Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo.
While on an appropriate break and switch-over to the bus right before the rain arrived members enjoyed a delicious boxed lunch from a local favourite, Evo Kitchen.
AFTERNOON: BUS TOUR IN UPTOWN WATERLOO
Ryan Mounsey, Manager of Expansion and Retention Services from the Economic Development office at the City of Waterloo, took the reins from here on in. Facing the seated tour group, and with a flawless transition, Mounsey jumped from anecdotes to facts, as the bus zipped through noteworthy portions of KW. It was the speech of a man well-rehearsed in the region.
The bus tour went through Uptown Waterloo, Northdale, Idea Quarter, UW Campus and Tech Park, and the Waterloo Corporate Campus. The group had numerous opportunities to hop off and stretch their legs, touring the historic Seagram building, CIGI Campus, and the impressive Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which offers a highly competitive, once-in-a-lifetime physics “boot camp” program.
We would like to thank our sponsors, MTE Consultants and Melloul Blamey Construction, as this tour was only possible thanks to their generosity.
A warm thank you to Ryan Mounsey (City of Waterloo), Brian Prudham (Momentum Developments), Jakob Turi (Allied Properties), and Ian Maricheau (Allied Properties) for their time and insightful commentary throughout our tour.
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