Condos out, commercial in

It's unusual to find an office with a patio. More unusual still is to find one complete with deck furniture and chilled beer.

It’s unusual to find an office with a patio. More unusual still is to find one complete with deck furniture and chilled beer.

The cold ones are a reward for a dozen-odd workers who have turned what was, one year ago, little more than a big hole in the ground at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Strickland Street into Whitehorse’s newest office building, dubbed Nuvo by its builders, Whitehorse-based Narrow Gauge Contracting.

The wide, wooden-floored deck on the fourth floor is an unintended perk for the engineering firm that is to lease the floor.

The floor was originally intended for condos, but midway through construction the builders scaled back the number of condo units from 16 to six, based on expectations that Whitehorse’s condo market is becoming saturated and there’s a greater demand for commercial space.

The four-storey building is 32,000 square feet. Of that, 5,000 square feet remains to be leased.

The most prominent tenant of the building is the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, expected to move into the second floor by September.

“We’re growing and we need the space,” said Jason Yeomans, communications manager for the board. “We’ve basically outgrown the old location.”

“Every nook and cranny in this office is full.”

Like most new Yukon buildings, Nuvo sports energy-efficient features such as R28 walls, R60 ceilings, and triple-paned, argon-filled windows.

But President Doug Gilday has taken a path different than the one taken by the owners of the Taku Building, who opted to pursue the prestigious, and costly, LEED environmental designation.

“We haven’t figured out why you would,” said Gilday. “It’s a lot of paperwork.”

Among the LEED requirements are that builders must try to use building materials that originated nearby, but that’s simply not practical in the Yukon, said Gilday.

The lot upon which Nuvo now stands was once the home to a car dealership.

For many years it sat vacant, save for a small shed used as a carving studio.

While Nuvo’s opening ceremony was held on Wednesday afternoon, the building’s sidewalk entrances and underground parking-lot driveway remain to be finished. These and other finishing touches ought to be complete in a week.

Then it’s on to the next job. Narrow Gauge has been contracted by the Yukon government to build a 32-unit affordable housing complex in Riverdale, adjacent to where the old CYFN building once stood, by the autumn of 2011. Work should start next week.

Contact John Thompson at

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