News / Edmonton

'A win for us and for the city itself': BioWare announces plan to move into Epcor Tower

Video game developer will leave its southside office in late 2018 or early 2019

The EPCOR tower in Edmonton.

Kevin Tuong / Metro Web Upload

The EPCOR tower in Edmonton.

A world-famous Edmonton video game developer is moving its local office downtown.

Epcor Tower announced Thursday that BioWare will move into a 75,000-square foot space spread over three of its floors in late 2018 or early 2019.

“Having a group like this take a position downtown is a win for us and for the city itself,” said Sidney Waskiewich, Qualico commercial’s vice president of leasing.

Epcor Tower was built in 2011 as a joint venture with Qualico and Ledcor Properties on 104 Avenue and 101 Street.

Waskiewich said its LRT and bus connections, as well as its amenities and proximity to bike lanes, make it an attractive option, as well as the revitalization of downtown with new facilities like Rogers Place and the upcoming Royal Alberta Museum.

“We’ve got a vibrancy downtown that is real and palpable that we just didn’t have before,” he said.

A screenshot from the BioWare game Dragon Age.

File

A screenshot from the BioWare game Dragon Age.

The move comes after a long rise in downtown office vacancy rates, which more than doubled over the past year.

That number dropped for the first time in five years this fall, however, according to a recent report from real estate firm CBRE showing a 19.7 vacancy rate in summer 2017, compared to 19.9 per cent in the previous three months.

Part of the rise has been due to new buildings like the Kelly Ramsey, Enbridge Centre and Edmonton towers opening downtown.

That number could rise again with the opening of the 66-storey Stantec Tower, scheduled for October 2018.

Waskiewich said older towers will likely have to refurbish to keep tenants and attract new clients.

“I wouldn’t say we’re out of the woods yet,” he said.

SONY DSC

File

SONY DSC

BioWare, which originated in Edmonton in 1995 and was bought by Electronic Arts in 2008, is currently housed on Calgary Trail near Whitemud Drive.

The company has won numerous awards and created some of the world’s most critically acclaimed video games including Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

BioWare general manager Casey Hudson called Epcor tower “world-class.”

“We’re thrilled to be moving into a modern, state-of-the art facility and live in a space that empowers and inspires us to do our best work every day,” Hudson said in a press release.

Mayor Don Iveson also issued a statement, saying BioWare is “a great addition to our innovation corridor.”

“Their expansion speaks to Edmonton’s supportive entrepreneurial culture, one where we build it here and expand it to the world."

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