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Cells may return to former police building – for business use

The city is considering renovating the Enterprise Centre in order to add mini workstations to help small businesses find a home.

The entire project is estimated to cost between $243,665 and $290,665 and would add 2,823 square feet of office space to the Enterprise Centre which is located on St. Ann’s Road, next to city hall.

The workspaces, or incubation cells, would typically serve small or start-up businesses which would work in close proximity to the city’s economic development arm, Rivercorp.

The Chamber of Commerce, InFilm, the Volunteer Centre, and Community Futures are also all located within the Enterprise Centre.

Elle Brovold, the city’s property manager, said adding the first set of incubation cells would mean a slight relocation within the building for Rivercorp, Tourism and InFilm.

“This space is 808 square feet in size and could provide space for seven to nine standalone workspaces and one private office,” Brovold wrote in a report to city council. “To accommodate the incubation cells, InFilm and Tourism would be required to relocate.

“The incubation workstations would be installed in rooms 12, 13, 15, and 18.”

The costs for the first stage of incubation cells is estimated at $23,280 for interior finishing, electrical and other repairs, plus an additional $7,000 to $27,000 for furniture ($1,000-$3,000 per station).

A second stage, which would include a women’s cell block with an extra 617 square feet for three standalone private offices, one common space and a washroom, is estimated to cost $74,230.

Costs would include demolition, asbestos abatement, interior finishing, a new exit door, and electrical repairs.

A third stage, a men’s cell block area that would provide for an additional 1,015 square feet of space and nine standalone offices, one common meeting area, a storage room and washroom is expected to cost $88,075. Stage four – a large meeting room – involves repurposing the Enterprise Centre’s garage and is estimated at $34,080, with an additional $5,000 for furniture.

And Brovold warns there will be other costs along the way.

“The men’s cell block area described in the third stage is currently being utilized as storage for city records for various departments,” Brovold said. “Storage at an external facility and the associated costs will need to be considered as the basement storage area at city hall is already at capacity with other archived records.”

Parking would also be an issue. The Enterprise Centre currently has 36 parking stalls, one is reserved for handicap parking, five are reserved for staff, and two are for short-term parking.

“Even with the current tenants, the demand for parking at this location is quite high,” said Brovold, noting that adding incubation work cells will mean the addition of more vehicles trying to access the Enterprise Centre. “To add another 10-12 vehicles regularly using this parking area would be unsustainable long term and would require an expansion of the parking area or a second parking location. Both solutions would result in substantial costs to the city.”

Council was expected to consider Brovold’s report at Tuesday’s council meeting after the Mirror went to press. While Rivercorp and InFilm, which are championing the incubation cells, still need to develop a business plan, city staff chose to divide any possible renovations into four stages in order to provide council with options.

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