Collaboration leads to Major Renovation and Lease Renewal

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The Challenge

Cushman & Wakefield was engaged to assist the BMO Financial Group (BMO) in a complex assignment with a unique set of challenges. The team was faced with developing a strategy that would explore the merits of a relocation or renewal of all or part of its 1.2-million-square-foot block of space, of which 500,000 square feet was to expire in 4.5 years

First Canadian Place had been the Bank of Montreal headquarters' location for over 35 years. During that time, the building had fallen behind its competitors in terms of image, finishes (particularly the exterior cladding), base-building systems, and floor-plate efficiencies. Building refurbishment was further complicated due to trailing prior ownership obligations of BMO. Premises within the tower consisted of a myriad of design standards lacking a consistent look and feel, older furniture systems, and inconsistent allocations of space among its business groups. On top of this, ad-hoc growth over the years fractured many of the business lines throughout the tower, creating an inefficient business operation. BMO was fully committed to correcting these issues while also advancing the bank in its Corporate Social Responsibility and LEED goals.

The Solution

Our team met with the business-unit leaders and stakeholders to determine the life-cycle demands of the respective business areas to better understand their core drivers. Once these issues became clear, the team developed a number of potential scenarios including both “new build” and decentralization and renewal.

By comparing the new scenarios and financial analyses against the break-even analysis of remaining in First Canadian Place, it became clear to the business-unit leaders that not only would they be able to achieve their goals of improved work environments to support staff attraction and retention by renewing their lease, but they would also improve the economic performance of their business. To achieve the renewal, the landlord, Brookfield Properties Corp., agreed to make extensive improvements to the building required by the tenant.

The renewal agreement, involving the comprehensive strategic reorganization of BMO's 500,000 square feet, came together with a $180-million building renovation, of which about $120 million was allocated to the removal of 45,000 panels of Carrera marble on the exterior façade. The overall cladding project included the installation of 7,800-glass spandrel panels on the façade, totaling 375,000 square feet.

Timing and swing space were also crucial to ensure the addition of the latest electrical and mechanical system, which helped achieve a new standard for sustainability and operational efficiency. As a result of these significant building upgrades, First Canadian Place is on the course to achieve its goal of LEED Gold certification.

The Result

Cushman & Wakefield successfully renewed BMO’s lease. By identifying the client’s changing needs, our team was able to apply an unparalleled breadth of expertise to deliver multifaceted services.