CIBC to Be Main Tenant at Ivanhoe Cambridge Toronto Complex

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is moving to new headquarters after almost a century at Commerce Court in the heart of Toronto’s financial district.

CIBC agreed to become the anchor tenant for a new office complex being built a few blocks south of Commerce Court, the Toronto-based bank said in a statement Wednesday. Canada’s fifth-biggest bank will move about 15,000 employees into the two 49-story towers.

CIBC to Be Main Tenant at Ivanhoe Cambridge Toronto Complex

CIBC headquarters to come at Bay Park Centre

Source: CIBC

“This is a significant cultural move for us to bring a lot of our employees into one very modern space," Stephen Forbes, CIBC’s chief commercial officer, said in a telephone interview. "It’s going to have all the modern working environments, which will be critical to having a flexible workforce and attracting talent to CIBC."

The 2.9-million-square-foot project, called Bay Park Centre for now, is being developed by Ivanhoe Cambridge, the real estate division of Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, and Hines, a closely held Houston-based real estate investment firm. The towers will be at 81 and 141 Bay St., straddling the train tracks that exit Toronto’s Union Station and near the Air Canada Centre arena.

Construction is expected to begin in early June, Jonathan Pearce, Ivanhoe Cambridge senior vice president of leasing for North America, said in a telephone interview.

CIBC will lease up to 1.75 million square feet in the two connected towers, with the south tower at 81 Bay St. to be completed around mid 2020, and the north building at 141 Bay St. ready to open in late 2023, Pearce said. The bank has exclusive naming rights to the complex, with branding to be announced later this year, he said.

The move allows CIBC to consolidate most of the 21,000 employees who are scattered across more than 20 buildings in the Toronto area, including the four-building Commerce Court complex on Bay Street that has served as headquarters for the lender and, before that, a predecessor since 1931. Its 34-story north tower was the tallest building in the British Empire at the time it was built, according to a history on the Commerce Court website.

CIBC will decide "over time" which current leases will be vacated as part of the shift, Forbes said. The bank leases space in all four Commerce Court buildings from Great-West Lifeco Inc., a unit of Montreal-based Power Corp. of Canada.

‘Neutral’ Impact

The move will have a “neutral" impact on earnings, Forbes said. Terms of the lease aren’t being disclosed.

Ivanhoe Cambridge and Hines said they bought the lands on Bay Street from Metrolinx, the regional transport authority. Ivanhoe had announced in September 2014 that it planned to build the C$2 billion ($1.5 billion) Bay Park Centre and bus terminal in partnership with Metrolinx. The developers declined to give a revised budget estimate. The complex is designed by WilkinsonEyre and Adamson Associates Architects.

CIBC will occupy space on a “bottom-up basis,” meaning that there will be room on higher levels for other tenants, according to Pearce. CIBC is expected to take up 60-65 percent of the first tower and as much as half of the second, he said.

One of the project’s “most notable” amenities will be an elevated, publicly accessible park that will sit over an existing rail corridor between the towers. The space will be “not only a park but a bridge and a connector” between the buildings, Pearce said. “It’s a really differentiating amenity to have green space in the heart of downtown Toronto.”

Park Curators

Developers said they have hired consulting firm Biederman Redevelopment Ventures to “curate” the park. The New York-based group oversaw the turnaround of Bryant Park in Manhattan.

The new buildings will include the latest energy efficiency, technology and wellness standards for air, water and even “nourishment” quality, Pearce said.

“We are going to be promoting health and wellness,” he said. “Our food market is going to be situated on the fourth floor, which is somewhat unusual because it’s going to have access to natural light, and there will be an outdoor terrace as well to enjoy, in addition to the outdoor park.”

The complex, which will have direct access into Union Station, will feature a “first-class fitness facility” in both towers exclusive to tenants, bike parking and showers for commuting workers and “interior VIP parking and waiting areas” so people don’t have to hail a taxi off the street, Pearce said.

“With the park and the amenities and the design of the building -- which is not just a simple glass box, it really has some life -- we are really pleased with what we are going to be able to offer the city of Toronto,” he said. The buildings will be a “worthy addition to the skyline.”