Construction of the new Irving Oil home office in uptown Saint John is still on track for completion by mid-2018 according to staff in charge of the project.
As of last week, around 80 to 90 people were working daily on the project site to build the structure’s core and shell.
“Which is essentially the superstructure and the cladding of the building. At the same time, we’re designing all the interiors. We’re probably half-way through the erection of the core and the shell and almost complete the design of the interiors,” says Steve Mitchell, project manager of the new home office.
“We’re looking to go out for tender in the spring time for the interiors and be topped off on the steel in the summer time. So there’s going to be a lot of activity in the summer time. We’ll start the erection of the cladding, things are going to start looking fundamentally different over the course of the summer.”
The new home office, located on in on King’s Square South beside the Imperial Theatre, will be 11 stories tall and will feature an atrium to encourage collaboration and interaction among employees. The fifth floor will feature an outdoor terrace.
Take a look inside the construction site below:
Though the project is still on track, there have been some challenges with construction, particularly this past winter. These challenges should be relieved with warmer weather finally underway.
“There have been some challenges with the wind. It’s a windier site than we probably anticipated and we’re on a pretty high point of land here in Saint John,” says Mitchell. “So we have had some weather related delays mainly to wind as the tower crane can’t lift things up above the height of the Imperial Theatre essentially and gets caught in the wind and it’s a bit dangerous.”
The new headquarters will consolidate about 1000 of Irving Oil’s Saint John employees who are currently scattered throughout five offices in the city. That will nearly double the number of the company’s employees working in the city’s uptown. This means many of those employees will need parking. Though there are parking spaces included in the building plan, more will be needed.
Jeff Matthews, chief business development officer for Irving Oil, says the company is exploring different parking solutions, including building a parking garage close by.
“We recognize parking is a challenge in the city and it’s important for us not only to get it right but also make sure that our employees are treated fairly and have a place to park. So we have a few options,” says Matthews. “Some them are coming more into a solution than others, including the potential for a parking structure close to the building so that employees have the opportunity to park close to home, making sure again that it fits in the with community and working with the city and city staff, who have been fantastic to work with.”
Saint John currently has the highest office vacancy rate in the province at 21.5 per cent. Irving Oil moving 1000 employees into a single building will add to that number by leaving five office spaces vacant. The company has no set plans yet as to what will be done with the properties.
“Right now the focus remains on the home office project and bringing the 1000 people from those offices under this roof,” says Irving Oil spokesperson Samantha Robinson. “And at that point, we can start making those decisions as well.”