Q & A: Here’s a plan to expand Barnett House

April 11, 2017
Gordon Thomas, Executive Secretary

Question: I understand there are plans to expand Barnett House. Is that going to happen?

Answer: I expect so.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association is entirely out of office space. The profession has been growing, and demand for service continues to increase. Our principal tenant, the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF), has also grown and has added a substantial number of new staff members. (Unlike a generation ago, there is an increasing amount of money to invest, and that takes staff.) All of our main meeting rooms are currently leased to ATRF in order to accommodate the staff they need, so we need more space.

We will be demolishing the auditorium and rebuilding it, with a basement available for secure and archival storage, and six floors above the auditorium, connecting to the existing Seymour Tower. We will gain substantial additional office space and a larger auditorium. Two of the six new floors will be leased to ATRF, with an option to lease additional space. We are still working out the details of a 10-year lease and look forward to our work together at Barnett House. 

We will also be adding a third level to the parkade, which will almost double the number of available parking stalls. The project will also produce additional meeting space for the Association.

The Association has named PCL as the construction manager for the project, and floor plans are nearly completed. We expect to tender the project in stages, with the first stage about to begin. The Association will then assess the tenders and decide whether or not to proceed with construction and award the contracts. If the tenders are acceptable to the Association, I would anticipate that demolition of the auditorium would commence shortly after May 1, 2017, and the project would be completed in one year, ahead of the ATA’s 100th anniversary on June 24, 2018. 

While a final decision has not yet been made with respect to how we will pay for the project, I believe that the Association will liquidate a portion of its members’ equity and assume a mortgage; the project is entirely manageable given our finances. ❚

Questions for consideration in this column are ­welcome. Please address them to Gordon Thomas at Barnett House (gordon.thomas@ata.ab.ca).