TransLink sets up shop in Sapperton

It was lunch hour on Monday, the first day of TransLink being in its new Brewery District digs, and media relations spokesman Derek Zabel was hungry. So he went to check out what was nearby and wandered into a sandwich shop. They asked him where he was from, and when he told them TransLink and that nearly 1,000 employees would now be working in the area they said, “Oh, this is great!”

TransLink’s move has been highly anticipated in Sapperton ever since it was announced in September 2010 that the transit authority had signed a 20-year lease with Wesgroup, the project’s developers.

And it turns out the area is going to get even more than it originally anticipated.

When first announced, TransLink said the new office would house 250 Transit Police staff and 230 TransLink employees. It was expected there would be an annual savings of $430,000 from leases on its Metrotown headquarters in Burnaby and operations at Gateway Station in Surrey, as well as the police offices on Columbia Street in New Westminster.

Since then, Coast Mountain Bus Company was added to the mix, as was a consolidation of more TransLink offices than originally planned. The end result will be 900 to 1,000 employees being based at the Brewery District office and an annual savings of more than $2.5 million, said Zabel.

“We opted to sign a 20-year lease and that give us an open floor plan that gives us a better collaborative environment,” said Zabel of all the different operations being in one spot.

The organizations—Transit Police, TransLink and Coast Mountain—occupy the third to seventh floors at 287 Nelson’s Court.

“It creates efficiencies because we used to travel to different offices and not having to saves money,” added TransLink spokeswoman Jiana Ling.

And even if they do have to move about the city, the office is right next to a SkyTrain station.

And the economic benefits will be felt by the City of New Westminster too, said Coun. Bill Harper, chair of the city’s economic development advisory committee.

“It’s going to be a very large economic impact,” said Harper.

He said when it’s all done, the Brewery District will bring 2,300 to 2,800 employees into the area. Add in the province’s promise to redevelop Royal Columbian Hospital and the future looks bright for the east end of the city, he added. Harper said many health care providers are already signing up. Even though the offices above the Thrifty’s supermarket, the first stage of the Brewery District, were zoned commercial most leases were to the health care sector, he said.

The next building Wesgroup is constructing has already been sold to the Health Sciences Association, a union representing 17,000 professionals and workers in the industry.

“It’s going to be quite an impact, not only on Sapperton, but on the entire city,” said Harper.

Combined with Downtown developments, increased activity in Queensborough and a 40-acre commercial/residential project at Braid and Brunette, Harper is bullish on the city’s economic development.

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