For sale or lease: Winnipeg’s CWB building

Operations of the former Canadian Wheat Board now take up just one floor’s worth of space in a near-empty, eight-story downtown Winnipeg office building that’s officially up for either sale or lease.

Real estate services company Colliers International has published a sale flyer, dated November 2012, announcing an "opportunity to acquire a recently renovated, institutional quality eight-story office building located steps from Portage Avenue and Main Street."

Colliers said the sale offering for 423 Main St. at McDermot Avenue is "unpriced, with offers to purchase to be considered by the vendor" — in this case, CWB, as the grain marketing agency is now dubbed.

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Colliers in December published a separate flyer offering the building for lease, with up to 146,528 square feet of office space available at a rent of $13.50 per square foot, net.

"Various spaces (are) immediately available from the main floor to the eighth floor," the brokerage said, but noted an opportunity for a CWB lease-back of the eighth floor may be negotiated with the company.

Any disposition of former Canadian Wheat Board assets is contentious for supporters of the former board’s mandated single marketing desk for Prairie wheat and barley. The single desk was eliminated in August as federal Bill C-18 came into effect.

A proposed class-action suit, filed in February 2012 by the pro-single-desk Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board, calls for a rollback of C-18.

If that can’t or doesn’t happen, the suit would instead seek $17 billion in damages for Prairie farmers from the "diminishment" of CWB assets and the conversion of board assets, funds and revenues — all of which, the suit alleges, should have been transferred over to grain growers’ CWB pool accounts after passage of C-18, but were not.

The $17 billion figure covers "fair market value" of all CWB assets and goodwill, effective just prior to C-18 receiving royal assent.

The FCWB’s suit doesn’t assign a specific dollar value to any of CWB’s physical assets, but lists the Main Street office building, computers, software, rail cars and CWB’s interest in two laker vessels purchased in 2011.

"Investment opportunity"

CWB, Colliers noted, "has reinvested over $17 million in capital improvements since 2006, including a complete floor-by-floor renovation of the building."

The building’s "location, open-concept flexible design and significant capital reinvestment provides for an exceptional turnkey office user/investment opportunity."

The building offers "highly efficient open-area workstation environments, (a) beautiful executive floor/boardroom, employee cafeteria and fitness facility, large training centres and numerous meeting rooms, and an onsite daycare facility."

Its amenities also include a 1,400-square foot data centre, a 22-stall heated parking garage and infrastructure for 24-hour security.

Related story:
CWB single-desk supporters file for new class action, Feb. 16, 2012

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