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City of Burlington buys office building at 390 Brant St

My Take: This is a strategic investment to help protect economic vibrancy downtown

City council has approved the purchase of 390 Brant St., known as Sims Square, for $17.5 million. The building will maintain the existing tenants and ensure the space continues to be available for future employment generation in the downtown. As such the property will be operated as a self-sustaining commercial property whereby all income generated by the facility will be used to repay the debt used to finance the purchase, as well as cover the maintenance and operation of the building. The property was purchased with a combination of debt financing and reserve funds.

The city has been leasing space at 390 Brant St. for employee use since 2005. The city uses 21,736 square feet of the building, which is one third of the building’s leasable floor space, to house four city departments and project teams.

City operations at 390 Brant St. include the Finance, Legal and Human Resources departments as well as some services from Capital Works and Parks and Recreation, including Festivals and Events.

The six-storey building has 61,000 square feet, a surface parking lot and underground parking.

Quick Facts

The City of Burlington has purchased 390 Brant St., known as Sims Square, for $17.5 million with possession taking place on Feb. 5, 2018.

390 Brant St. is known as Sims Square. The location was once a city park.

The city is committed to creating and maintaining a vibrant and active downtown with a healthy economy that includes office space.

The city originally sold Sims Square in the 1980s to help create office space in the downtown.

The city will manage and operate Sims Square as a distinct business unit separate from City Hall operations.

My Take:

I supported city purchase of this building to help preserve office space downtown, and provide more control over potential redevelopment of this site (which includes the surface parking next door, at one time slated for an additional building). With city ownership, we’ll be able to prevent the site redeveloping with a residential tower that could reduce jobs downtown. The city will collect rent revenue from tenants, which pays the financing to purchase the building, so there is no impact on taxes for residents. I see it as a strategic investment to help protect economic vibrancy downtown.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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27 Comments

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    • I’m surprised that the City could actually come together “as one” in buying this building. Congrats.! Now we just wish that they could come together “as one” with the same thinking that you have, in “preventing site redevelopment with residential towering” for the rest of Brant St. It is the citizens that have elected all City Councillors and Mayor to act on our behalf with this line of thinking, and it is only those sitting in their elected seats that “can” actually make this happen. NOT HAPPENING!! The developers have the upper hand in dictating their requests with huge amounts of money and promises going forward! Money always gets you front row and centre! If the elected don’t get a handle on all the pleas for justice, then serious measures need to be taken sooner than later. Money is evil where we are heading for such ridiculous intensification for our small downtown when it could be directed selectively elsewhere. No grey areas!!

  1. The City should have developed the site and saved money over the years.

    I’d like to see a timetable for the proposed second office building and how tall it will be.

    By utilizing the little room Council has with its own debt financing limitations, the purchase of this office building has reduced what’s available for volunteer based groups to build capacity in servicing our community.

    Debt financing through joint ventures is needed for local sports, arts and cultural groups
    to build needed facilities in our growing city.
    Council has to either seed good proposals brought forward by community based groups through long term loans or jump in themselves to build community facilities. ‘Growing Bold’ needs to embrace those already entrenched in serving the community.

  2. This is to protect the economic vibrancy? Weve been told all these towers are going to have mix use and bring so much prosperity to downtown. If we are in the real estate business why not make an application to make a 30 story office tower instead of keeping it at 6..also to protect from redevelopment? Don’t we have councilors and city staff to control and manage development to stick to official plan? Nope

  3. This City purchasing this building to ensure employment space in the downtown seems odd. Is the planning department not anticipating any future employment space in the new developments they are recommending to Council. If this is the case perhaps the City should purchase some of the property that has been amassed by developers to ensure the quality of life for the residents.

  4. I believe the purchase of the Office Building at 390 Brant St. is great! My wish is that this building will now be the precedent setting for all of Brant St. Perhaps we could now make Brant St. the “NEW HERITAGE PRECINCT” going forward. 4 – 6 – 8 storeys starting at the corner of Lakeshore would be a “dream come true for all”! Hopefully it will not be dwarfed by surrounding towers as seems to be slated on the plans. My condolences!

What's your take?

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