Transit attracts office tower to Port Moody

The Onni Group marked the start of construction on the project that is expected to be complete in 16 months

Michael Hind (Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce) Mike Clay (Port Moody mayor) Brendan Yee (development manager with Onni) and John Middleton (VP of retail leasing for Onni) at the ground-breaking of a nine-storey tower at 220 Brew St. in Port Moody Monday.  Photo: Jeremy Deutsch 

By the summer of 2016, the first Evergreen Line trains will be pulling into the Inlet Centre station in Port Moody.

And overlooking the transportation hub opening up around the same time will be a nine-storey office tower in Suter Brook Village, that once completely occupied could be home to hundreds of workers.

The Onni Group, which is building the tower, held a ground-breaking ceremony Monday to mark the start of construction on the project that is expected to be complete in 16 months.

Once completed, the building located at 220 Brew St. will have 25,000 square feet of commercial space along with another 140,000 square feet of office space on the top eight floors.

Officials with Onni noted the Evergreen Line was a major reason for the location and the project moving forward at this time. 

"With the Evergreen Line coming in, it's a definite game-changer," said Brendan Yee, development manager with Onni.

"It's going to put Suter Brook Village right on the map and I think people are going to be very surprised at how much having a rapid transit station is going to change the dynamic of the village. The vision for Suter Brook was always to have a place where people can live, work and play and I think this office building is going to further enhance that."

While there is still 16 months before doors open on the building, Onni officials expect it to take some time before the space is completely filled.

A daycare has already signed on to take over 18,000 square feet on the second floor.

As for the main floor commercial space, Yee explained there has been ongoing discussion with a possible tenant he described as an indoor fitness-type business.

The developer is also looking at institutional tenants for the upper floors like government agencies who are looking for space near rapid transit.

The development hasn't made it to this stage without controversy as it was originally intended to be a hotel.

That idea was eventually scrapped.

A rezoning application for the daycare was also originally turned down by council before finally being approved last November.

Traffic was also a hot issue for residents in the area, but Yee is confident it won't be a problem when the office tower is done, noting measures like offering a car-share program and the Evergreen Line's opening will help decrease congestion.

Both Port Moody's mayor and the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce are happy to see the tower's construction begin.

Mayor Mike Clay said he's excited that Onni has the confidence in the community to build the project.

He also suggested 10 years ago, the office tower would never have been built at the Brew Street location.

"Everybody is out looking for office space — their No. 1 thing on their list is [locating] near transit," he said. "This is what we have here."

The chamber's executive director, Michael Hind, said his organization constantly hears from businesses looking for more office space in the Tri-Cities and the Onni building will help address the issue.

"The area is growing, Coquitlam is growing, Port Moody is growing so this makes perfect sense," he said.

"I know there's interest out there so hopefully it will fill up and I'm pretty confident it will."