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Barnett House expansion approved
Addition of new tower to begin in May

February 14, 2017 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor
In May, construction will begin on an eight-storey addition on the south side of Barnett House. The project is projected to be complete by the summer of 2018. 
It’s official: Barnett House is getting an addition.
After two years of planning and preparation, a development permit is in place and groundbreaking is expected to begin in a matter of months on an addition that will see the current auditorium demolished and replaced with an eight-storey tower attached to the existing Seymour Tower.

The plan is to start the demolition in May and complete the new addition by the summer of 2018.

“Right now the building is full and we’re looking into the future and saying, you know, the responsible thing is to expand now for the next 20 years,” said Quintin Yardley, chair of the committee that’s overseeing the expansion.

Once the addition to Barnett House is underway, construction will begin on a third level to the parkade. The estimated cost of the entire project is $17 million, with funding coming from existing resources, as well as a mortgage, said executive secretary Gordon Thomas.

“We believe that we will have adequate renters to deal with the mortgage,” Yardley said.

The project will increase Seymour Tower’s overall square footage by approximately 26 per cent. The expansion is needed because of significant staffing growth at the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF), which leases a considerable amount of space at Barnett House, Yardley said. Also, the building is home to both Edmonton teacher locals, neither of which is getting smaller; plus the ATA’s own staffing levels are increasing to keep pace with the growth of the province’s teaching population.

“We will grow into this space pretty quickly,” Yardley said.
ATRF has committed to staying for at least 10 years, subject to successful completion of a lease negotiation that is currently underway, and will take at least one-third of the new space, Thomas said.

During the construction period, the current auditorium will cease to exist, so functions that typically use that space will be held in hotel meeting rooms, Thomas said.

After the City of Edmonton initially denied its proposal due to concerns about the height (which is the same as the existing building), the Association gained approval at the development appeal board, meaning there are no more regulatory hurdles to overcome. The Association is currently in the process of securing the services of a firm to manage the project, Yardley said.

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