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July 4, 2021

Gail Auriti on the transformation of 201 Portage

Gail Auriti on the transformation of 201 Portage

Gail Auriti is the Broker and Leasing Manager for Harvard Development’s 201 Portage. In this episode we discuss the transformation of Winnipeg’s crown jewel office tower at the corner of Portage and Main, most commonly known as 201 Portage Avenue (former...


Gail Auriti is the Broker and Leasing Manager for Harvard Development’s 201 Portage. In this episode we discuss the transformation of Winnipeg’s crown jewel office tower at the corner of Portage and Main, most commonly known as 201 Portage Avenue (former names: TD Centre, Canwest Place, and CanWest Global Place)

Transcript

Adrian Schulz :

I'm joined today by Gail Auriti who is with Harvard Developments, a Hill Company also known most specifically as 201 Portage Avenue. Welcome to the show Gail.

Gail Auriti :

Thank you.

Adrian Schulz :

Now, Gail, can you tell me a little about yourself and your company?

Gail Auriti :

Well, my name is Gail Auriti and I'm the leasing manager at 201 Portage. 201 Portage is owned by Harvard Development Corporation based out of Regina, Saskatchewan.

Adrian Schulz :

And Gail, how long have you been with 201 Portage?

Gail Auriti :

I've been with 201 Portage since the fall of 2014. So we're approaching seven years now.

Adrian Schulz :

Many people still refer to 201 as the TD building. And there have been a name or two in between. Can you share a little bit about 201's history. What is going on there? And I guess the crown jewel of Winnipeg office buildings.

Gail Auriti :

Yes, 201 Portage was built in 1990. The original developer and owner was Bentall Group and CN Real Estate. And the building at that time was known as the TD Centre. Over time, although the TD bank still remained a significant tenant in the building for many, many years, the name had changed over years. I know it was known as the Canwest building and it is now known as 201 Portage.

Adrian Schulz :

There's a lot going on in the Winnipeg office, real estate market, specifically downtown. How will 201's transformation affect downtown Winnipeg real estate?

Gail Auriti :

Well, 201 Portage is going through a extremely wonderful transformation right now. We're doing a complete transformation of the main floor lobby, including the exterior of the building, all expected to be completed by this fall, at least phase one of the exterior by this fall. But the interior main floor lobby will be done by the fall of 2001.

Gail Auriti :

So this redevelopment includes a complete transformation like I said, of the main floor lobby by increasing the size of the lobby to provide an abundance of room and circulation for gathering. And the lobby will also be completely renovated with all new granite finishes, new wall and ceiling finishes, new enhanced lighting throughout, also a relocated and improved security desk. And also our new expanded and enhanced entrance vestibule into the building will just add a grand entrance to the entire main floor lobby. Along with the main floor renovation, the elevators are being completely modernized and that includes replacement of the elevator controls and motors and all new interior cab finishes. So in essence, 201 Portage is going to be a brand new building and the number one office building to be in for downtown Winnipeg. So 201 Portage is not just about space. It's about success.

Adrian Schulz :

I think the building originally opened in 1990, at which time it was definitely the number one office building in Winnipeg. So the transformation that you're undergoing basically assure that 201 remains as the number one office building destination in downtown Winnipeg. Is that correct?

Gail Auriti :

That's correct.

Adrian Schulz :

Now who are the current anchor tenants and what prospective tenants is 201 Portage ideal for?

Gail Auriti :

So actually we've got a lot of anchor tenants in the building. We're very fortunate. So the Bank of Montreal is the main branch for the Bank of Montreal now on the main floor. And this was a very exciting project. So along with the bank of Montreal, BMO Nesbitt Burns is a significant tenant in the building, as well as Taylor McCaffrey law firm and Wellington-Altus, Private Wealth Management, to RBC Dominion Securities, Corus Radio, and Global Television, BDO also just moved into the building. We're very fortunate that we've got a number of wonderful anchor tenants in the building.

Adrian Schulz :

If there are in fact vacancies or available office space at 201, what type of user is the building ideal for?

Gail Auriti :

So it's a professional office building and therefore professional office tenants are the ideal user in the building being law firms, accounting firms, wealth investment management firms, I forgot to mention investors group is also in the building as I mentioned, wealth management firms. So that is primarily the types of businesses that are in the building, your general office, typical office user as well.

Adrian Schulz :

Would there be a minimum, or average, or larger size user that you're targeting?

Gail Auriti :

We are continuing to target law firms, and accounting firms, and wealth management firms. So all of those are suitable tenants for the building.

Adrian Schulz :

There's a lot going on in downtown real estate right now within a block or two of 201, any way that you go both on the commercial and residential side, what makes 201 Portage unique in Winnipeg's office, real estate market?

Gail Auriti :

Well, 201 Portage being at the iconic corner of Portage and Main with access of course, to Winnipeg square and the underground connections, connecting it to all the other businesses within the class A towers at Portage and Main, it is right on the hub of the exchange. So it's got the Portage and Main address, and we're also connected to the exchange. We've got a 812 stall arcade attached to the building. So there's a lot of amenities in the building as well. We have a conference center, state-of-the-art conference center that is available for tenants in the building, and it has all the state-of-the-art audio, visual equipment and tools that our tenants can use for conferencing and Skype for business and meetings. It's got a wide variety of uses and it is well used. And also we've got some food service tenants and a convenience store tenants, and we are also preparing a gym for the tenants in the building. So we will have all the amenities that a class A tenant would be looking for.

Adrian Schulz :

The tenants that you have right now, what do you think they enjoy most about being there?

Gail Auriti :

That's a good question. There's a lot. A lot Of tenants are enjoying the views are incredible. The large open space that large open floor plans really allowed for efficiency and floor planning when they were planning for their spaces. Of course, the amenities in the building, the quality of the service in the building.

Adrian Schulz :

Now I'm a lover of all tall office buildings. I'm curious how many elevators are there in the building?

Gail Auriti :

So we have 10 elevators. We have five that service the high rise portion of the building on floors 19 to 31. And we have five elevators that service low rise of the building from floors, the ground floor to the 18th floor and there's also a service elevator that goes from the concord's elevator to the main floor and a freight elevator for all deliveries. So that those aren't going through the passenger elevators.

Adrian Schulz :

Now, is it like in the movies where there's some celebrity tenant on the very top floor?

Gail Auriti :

No. Well, I mean, all our tenants are celebrity tenants to us, so, but RBC Dominion Securities is on the top floor of 201 Porter.

Adrian Schulz :

You've been in the commercial real estate business for a long time. What do you love about this particular part of your career versus other parts of your career so far?

Gail Auriti :

I love being in this class A building, and I love being at Portage and Main, and having the connection with the professionals that are in the building and representing Harvard in Winnipeg.

Adrian Schulz :

Harvard Developments having come to Winnipeg or Manitoba in the last few years, I suspect we will see their presence grow.

Gail Auriti :

Yes.

Adrian Schulz :

Yeah.

Gail Auriti :

You definitely will.

Adrian Schulz :

Thanks so much for your time today, Gail.

Gail Auriti :

Thank you, Adrian.

Gail Auriti

Broker, Leasing Manager