The Co-operators, Skyline working to fill Guelph's Gummer Building

GUELPH, ON, Sept. 14 /CNW/ - The Co-operators and Skyline today announced they have reached a conditional agreement that would result in 150 Co-operators employees moving into the historic Gummer Building in the heart of downtown Guelph. They would occupy more than 75 per cent of the office tower once it is rebuilt following a devastating fire in 2007.

The agreement would allow The Co-operators to move its 150 staff members currently located at 649 Scottsdale Drive in Guelph to the downtown core, where another 750 employees work. This would allow the organization to have all of its Guelph-based staff members working in three buildings within one city block. Construction on the Gummer Building will resume once lease conditions have been met, and is expected to be completed within 12-14 months of its resumption.

"We've been a big part of downtown Guelph since 1963 when our head office was built at Priory Square, and we have continued to grow since then," commented Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators. "Bringing all our Guelph-based staff members closer together would improve efficiency and heighten our sense of connectedness. At the same time, the extra 150 people working here will be a real boon to downtown businesses, so this is a very positive development all around."

The Gummer Building and two other landmark buildings were severely damaged by a fire on Easter weekend, 2007. Guelph-based Skyline now owns the buildings, which are being redeveloped while preserving facades and other historical features. Skyline will be developing a modern, eco-sensitive commercial complex, which will include retail outlets on the street-level. The City of Guelph has designated it a heritage site, and has committed up to $2.05 million of property tax abatement from the Heritage Redevelopment Reserve to help preserve its historical aspects.

"This redevelopment will preserve the unique historical features that are an integral part of Guelph's architectural legacy, while helping bring new life to our downtown core," said Jason Ashdown, COO of Skyline. "The Co-operators is a community-minded organization and a mainstay of downtown. Having them move into this space will be great news for downtown business and the community."

The redevelopment, which will help revitalize picturesque Douglas Street and St. George's Square, will include several green features, full accessibility, and high exposure retail space. The rooftop terraces will provide excellent views of the downtown core, St. George's Church and Church of Our Lady.

About The Co-operators:

Based in Guelph, Ontario, The Co-operators is a group of Canadian companies offering home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators Group Limited is a 100 per cent Canadian-owned co-operative with assets of more than $7 billion. It is owned by a group of Canadian co-operatives, credit union centrals and like-minded organizations. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement, and is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada.

About Skyline:

Based in Guelph, Ontario, Skyline is the asset manager for Skyline Apartment REIT, a private real estate investment trust focused on acquiring and managing apartment buildings and commercial space in diverse communities across Canada. Skyline's current holdings include 86 properties in 33 communities across four provinces. The portfolio is comprised of 5,574 residential units and 780,000 square feet of commercial space. Skyline's Guelph roots are solidly grounded through years of community involvement and charitable efforts aimed at re-investing in their own backyard. Skyline's Guelph holdings include ten properties of both residential and commercial space five of which are located in the downtown core. For more information, please visit skylineonline.ca

SOURCE The Co-operators

For further information: For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators, (519) 824-4400, ext. 2707; Jason Ashdown, Skyline, (519) 826-0439


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