Another Post On That New Tower

A new office tower is officially coming to downtown Regina. The groundbreaking was held this morning. Hofmeister and I were in attendance as Premier Brad Wall, Mosaic President and CEO  Jim Prokopanko, Harvard Developments CEO Paul Hill and City Councillor Michael Fougere dipped their shovels into a trough of soil to symbolically mark the groundbreaking of the new building, which will house head offices for the global fertilizer giant (assuming the Australians don’t steal it, I guess).

Fougere’s speech centered on the significance of the new building to Regina’s downtown. “The final plan meets the spirit and the intent of the Regina Downtown Plan,” he said. Now, the final plan does not meet many key requirements which Harvard bought its way out of. However the City Administration which, unlike Planning Commission, has a pretty good track record standing against sketchy notions (until they get overruled by politicians anyway), is happy with the tower. And my first take on it is yes, it does look like something that attempts to meet the spirit of the plan.

Dechene will have a lot more to say on this next issue of prairie dog (out next Thursday).

And somewhere, Carle is hating the new building already and talking about moving back to Montreal.

Is this tower good for Regina, or baaaad? Let the debating, screeching and arguing begin.

Photo by Darrol Hofmeister, sharpshooter photography

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

25 thoughts on “Another Post On That New Tower”

  1. The tower itself I’m fine with, what I don’t like is the concept of buying their way out of certain requirements of the Downtown Plan. I don’t know about you, but don’t we have enough buildings downtown that ‘help’ the wind. Yes, SaskPower I’m looking at you. *sigh*

  2. I’m torn between encouraging Carle to move for her sanity and tossing a net over her. I really enjoy her writing.

  3. Why would this Steele person be opposed to a new building downtown? Look’s pretty decent to me. Really, would you rather have the Plains/Comic Readers/Green Spot platter (I believe these are the two locations being developed), or two new buildings that if anything improve upon the other buildings downtown? How can we harp on no office or living space downtown, and then when developments offer this, criticize some more?

  4. Steel! Not Steele. Well, there’s different ways you can build a city. You can have epic-scale glass-and-steel architecture dependent on a certain level of corporate activity or you can have smaller, human scale buildings with a warmer feel that re-adapt nicely for different uses over decades. I believe Carle prefers the latter.

    Carle laments the loss of so many of Regina’s heritage buildings and thinks the city’s been harmed by bad architectural decisions. This tower is probably salt on that wound.

    But I should let Carle speak for herself. You out there, Carle?

    I am cautiously okay with this proposed tower, by the way. But I’m interested in what people think.

  5. Also: interesting that both ComicReaders and the Greenspot moved to better locations as a result of this development. Well, the new Greenspot is a little sterile but it’s bigger and that’s good.

  6. Jeez, first off, I didn’t say anything, Steve did. I actually like a good modern tower as much as the next girl (give me a better city and I would buy one of those new Capital Pointe condos in a heartbeat.) What I object to is all the other stuff that gets sacrificed for it, and that the towers aren’t ever that great, and the money in this town always goes where the money wants to, in the form it wants to, when it suits itself. New towers! Whee! Rider Dome, yay! Downtown Plan? Library? Grocery store? Theatre? All you’ll hear is the sound of crickets. Oh, and the tiny sound of me dying of boredom as I walk downtown. I swear one of these days it’s going to happen.

    And Barb, I’m a National Treasure now, didn’t you know. One of our readers offered me a bratwurst to seal this status, and I am going to accept. When I take him up on the offer, would you like to come with me to snatch it away just in case it cheers me up? Or shall I just ask that it be wrapped in a road map?

  7. Not a fan of steel and glass or wind tunnels, but I suppose the office space is necessary.

    Just wish we could plan the city so that our office windows don’t look into another office or apartment. I don’t want a city where we can’t see the sun from the street. The world doesn’t need more concrete jungles.

    Buying out of the development plan is just an example of how tycoons control this city, province and country – I don’t believe that the ambience and humanity of the city factors much into their decision-making.

  8. Ah,dear Miss Steel: Stephen’s reference above indicated that threatening to move back to Montreal in reaction to construction in this city (or, in my observation, almost anything that happens in this city, as your second sentence illustrates very well)is a commonplace with you. As a writer, and apparently national treasure, you should know that such Watchtower Society-like warnings of something that never happens will debase your currency and render you boringly predictable.

    Enjoy your bratwurst; will you be taking that on the plane…?

    For those who check out the Regina thread of skyscraperpage, note that their chief concern seems to be with the jobs that may/may not materialize.

  9. I still disagree, STEEL, I believe trading the Plains for a new condo development is akin to trading Reggie Slack for everyone’s new hero, Darian Durant. And not even the crackalicious Reggie Slack from 1997, the current one, I’m sure he’s in about the same state as the Plains is. That is called a good trade-off.

    I’ve been to Montreal a few times and remember some larger office/condo towers as well. Yes, lots of smaller buiildings etc. also. But let’s stay real here, it’s not like Regina is going to be overcome Manhatten-style with endless skyscrapers, a few new larger buildings must be viewed as an improvement, not an eyesore. Arguing otherwise…

  10. I also didn’t say Montreal’s downtown didn’t suck: it’s mostly an inhuman dead zone (with some beeeautiful new buildings with excellent design and public art, another thing we ain’t getting here) where no one lives either. That city has of other areas where people can live and play and shop because it’s big and, it’s Montreal. With Regina, downtown is pretty much all we’ve got. Had. We had all the amenities in the 1980s we’re trying to get now– it all got torn down.

    Re: the Plains and the sports reference, BAYLESS. I have no idea who you’re talking about. I am always surprised about the divides in this town – they’re not at all where we think they are.

    And Mme Saylor, As for my poor debased currency, and that the skyscraper people are being sensible and talking about jobs… sigh. Maybe I should work for an ad agency instead and leave you poor people alone. I can think up a few slogans right now. Regina: It Doesn’t Get Better Than This. Or, Regina: Want More? Move On.

  11. I have forwarded an image of the 1800 block of Hamilton (the site of Hill 3) circa 1963 to Miss Steel. Perhaps out of her good graces she might have it published to this blog for purposes of discussion.

    And if there were ever a Watchtower Society-like entity that revolved around the musings of Miss Steel, that would be one publication I’d gladly accept were its acolytes peddling it from door-to-door.

  12. Brett (and/or Carle): Can you forward those pics to me too? I’d love to see what the site looked like back then. I can be emailed at

    Greg: That’s disturbing. The Gordon Block (which is just to the west of Tower I) is a great building that deserves to be better cared for. The state of disrepair it is in does not speak well for its current owners. I’d like to see it restored, not torn down. And it’d be especially infuriating if it ends up getting demolished under the pretense that the building is so derelict it can’t be saved.

  13. An outsider’s eye, with its broader perspective, is good; I have one myself, and there are certainly things in Regina that are/have been better/worse compared to cities I’ve lived in before. The problem seems to be with folks who, over the past few years, have moved here from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, etc., and right away start slagging Regina for not being what they left behind. This isn’t perspective; it’s pining.

    Wind tunnels? Try Portage and Main, thanks to the Richardson Building.

  14. Okay, Carle’s posted the photos a few posts up. You must’ve seen them but if not, here’s the link:

    I propose moving discussion (assuming anyone has anything left to say) to that post’s comment section.

    Also, nice to have some conversation here. Thanks, peoples!

  15. For newcomers in this city who wonder why we don’t preserve our old buildings the way other cities do, and why the oldtimers snicker when they hear how much you suckers are paying for houses here… Since the claybed under our city, known as the gumbo, destroys the foundations of every building over time, we can’t expect to preserve our heritage buildings. That’s why we don’t have buildings over 100 years old here the way other cities do. So, unlike other cities, we’re not sacrificing history to build new buildings, the history dies anyway.
    What I wonder about with all these towers, and the recent windy wobblings of the SGI tower make me wonder it a little harder, is how much of a bitch it’s going to be to deal with all of them once they start falling apart.

  16. There are plenty of buildings at or near the 100-year mark. Firehall #1. The old post office/Globe Theatre. Eaton’s/Sears Clearance Centre. The Sherwood Department Store/Viterra. Davin School. My house. Fargo, North Dakota is built on the same stuff and they’ve done a great job preserving their downtown. The history dies only if you don’t think it’s important and Regina has hobbled itself for decades because of a history of short-term planning.

  17. The building I live in on the Scarth St. Mall (Willoughby/Duncan) was built in 1908.

  18. The proposed Harvard Development Tower III at Hamilton and 12th Avenue will not comply with the Regina Downtown Development Plan only approved by City Council 10 months ago. This new development will not create wind problems for the pedestrians. We know how windy downtown gets, so who are we trying to kid and say that this corner will not be windy?
    The removal of viable small businesses in the downtown to put up this tower goes against having a diverse mix of businesses. There will be 6-7 corporate tenants in this new building that disappear every day at 5 p.m. There are twice that many being forced to move their small businesses.
    There are many other places in the downtown where this building could have been built that would not cause problems and would eliminate at least one single-use parking lot (vacant most of the time).
    The Regina Downtown Development Plan put the emphasis on walking to work and living downtown. There is no residential component to this proposal, just more offices and more cars. This building will have 900 employees in the building, yet it only has 49 executive stalls on site and will be expropriating another 143 in a currently busy parkade nearby. We hear that Mosaic is moving 120 new employees to Regina, into this building and we are expected to believe that the supply of stalls for this building will accommodate the demand for parking and not displace any other space in downtown. Tell me where are the other 708 employees going to park? When you can’t find a parking spot downtown, I suggest your first call should be the Mayor’s office (777-7339).

  19. Hey Jim: I’m very familiar with the ComicReaders situation, and being forced to move definitely landed them in a better location (more or less across from the Cornwall Centre). The new Green Spot location looks like an improvement, too. Once they add some character to it, anyway.

    Not arguing with your core point, just adding some details. ComicReaders is definitely better than ever.

    Losing Moment In Thyme was a calamity though.

    I think some of the frustration is amplified by anger and disappointment at other development decisions Regina’s made over the years. Terrible sprawl, our rental vacancy situation (disaster) and a possibly flubbed plaza redevelopment are three things that haven’t helped the City’s credibility.

    Also, what the hell’s going on with the downtown library? When’s that going to get redeveloped/renovated?

    Overall, I can imagine better ways to develop that corner but I can also imagine a lot worse than this tower. At the moment, I am tentatively okay with the plan. Sure looking forward to reading Dechene’s story on it though (no pressure, Paul!).

  20. Every time a business is forced to move their business they are likely to loose some customers or at best have customers return in a month or two. I only know of where the Green Spot is because the Folk Festival used them for some of their meals. If I didn’t know that, I would likely assume that the business went broke and go somewhere else. As you know, location, location, location.

  21. I’ve never heard the behind-the-scenes A Moment In Thyme story. Were they forced to close because of the move? Or were the move and the closure connected but maybe it wasn’t so much the move breaking the business as it was that it provided a convenient time for the business owner to move on?

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