Saskatoon’s proposed World Trade Center (WTC) has brought former mayor Don Atchison back to council chambers.
Atchison appeared before the planning, development and community services committee Monday morning, making his first speech in chambers since his election defeat nearly one year ago.
He was advocating as a consultant for the World Trade Center office tower project, asking councillors to approve a 100 per cent tax abatement over five years for the building and parkade planned for the corner of Third Avenue and 22nd Street.
Taxes would still be paid on the land the building sits on.
“The World Trade Center will help in redefining downtown Saskatoon and Saskatchewan,” he said. “This is an incredible opportunity, and incredible is better than better.”
The tax break would be in line with abatements approved for other recent commercial developments across the city, Atchison pointed out.
It’s also aligned with a debate council had in September over providing tax breaks to downtown projects to encourage infill development.
The Saskatoon World Trade Center is proposed to replace the closed credit union office on 22nd Street with a nine-storey office tower. The plans include a restaurant tenant on the main floor, along with over 118,000 square feet of rentable space.
The $50 million project is being funded by private interests, and the building will become part of a 320-member WTC organization.
“The World Trade Center will bring international visibility, integrity, credibility (and) recognition to Saskatoon,” Atchison said.
The committee quizzed Atchison on the public benefits of the office tower construction, including confirming materials from the demolished credit union office will be recycled.
Atchison said they’re working with the Western Development Museum on the possibility of moving an antique safe in the office to an exhibit at the museum.
Councillors Darren Hill, Hilary Gough, Troy Davies, Bev Dubois and Zach Jeffries unanimously approved the tax abatement recommendation for the WTC.
The matter will be decided by full council at the end of October.