Businesses in downtown Edmonton are excited about the addition of the city’s beloved video game developer BioWare to the core.
The company is expected to move into three floors of EPCOR Tower in late 2018 or early 2019, expanding its current size from around 60,000 sq. ft. to about 75,000 sq. ft.
Created in Edmonton in 1995 by three doctors who studied together at the University of Alberta, the BioWare was purchased by Electronic Arts (EA), a global entertainment publisher, in 2007. They have been located in the city’s suburban area of Empire Park, just off of Calgary Trail, since they first opened.
“BioWare is a well-known story of Edmonton entrepreneurism and home-grown talent, so to have them move downtown and expand their location, I think that speaks volumes about the increased vibrancy in downtown Edmonton,” says Sidney Waskiewich, VP of Commercial Leasing for Qualico Commercial, which owns EPCOR Tower, located in the heart of the city at 10423-101 St.
EPCOR Tower is recognized as one of the city’s flagship eco-friendly buildings, as a winner of LEED® Gold Certification and BOMA BEST Gold Management.
“EA and BioWare are committed to providing world-class facilities for our employees, and this move will allow us to deliver on that promise,” said Casey Hudson, BioWare’s General Manager. “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.”
The company’s move from its current location on Calgary Trail in the Empire Park neighbourhood is being noticed by many as proof that the ongoing revitalization of the downtown continues to attract businesses.
“There was a time not long ago when Edmonton businesses didn’t see downtown as a preferred or desirable location,” says Waskiewich. “But that’s quickly changing, and I think a group like BioWare taking such a large, prominent position downtown tells me the downtown environment is getting increasingly better, and is becoming highly sought after by quality companies.”
Last year, Google also chose the U of A’s downtown campus to open DeepMind, the Artificial Intelligence research division of the company.
“I’m hoping it’s a sign of things to come. I want to see more of these types of companies here,” says Waskiewich. “Post-secondary institutions like the U of A, NAIT and MacEwan are producing some great tech grads, and groups like EA and Google taking a position in Edmonton is a good sign that the city’s tech scene is a growing sector of our business community.”
Mayor Don Iveson agrees, “BioWare’s announcement to come downtown 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.”