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New Westminster to finance office tower project

Unable to find a new private partner for a Downtown office tower connected to new civic centre, New Westminster city council has decided to go ahead anyway and build the eight-storey structure.

The decision was announced in a press release issued Monday afternoon (April 30).

In March, the Uptown Property Group decided to back out of the project saying it was a business decision. When the city called for proposals for a project to accompany the centre, Uptown was the only group to propose an office complex while others proposed a residential component.

City council has decided to go ahead with the project anyway.

"The [Multi-Use Civic Facility]/office tower project is a critical component of revitalization efforts that are starting to show real results in our Downtown," said Mayor Wayne Wright. "By ensuring construction of 100,000-plus square feet of class-A LEED Gold office space goes ahead, we are elevating benefits the project will bring while creating an asset for the city."

The MUCF is currently under construction at Eighth and Columbia streets. It is being funded through a development assistance compensation agreement between the city, the province, the B.C. Lottery Corporation and Starlight Casinos. However, despite no longer having a partner, the city has decided to finance the office tower.

"There is no question New Westminster is increasingly on the radar screens of businesses and developers as a centrally located hub with five rapid transit stations linking us to the rest of Metro Vancouver," said Wright. "We want to build on that by creating opportunities to broaden the employment base in the Downtown area, increasing its vitality and returning it to its former glory when our Downtown was known as the Golden Mile."

The city said in a press release that financing the office tower will ensure it is built on time and in conjunction with the civic centre. The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2014. The civic centre will cost $41.5 million, the office tower $33 million and $12.5 million for parking.

• Watch the NewsLeader for more details on the financing as it becomes available.

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