Council voiced enthusiastic support for Cochrane’s new transit hub and innovation outpost and voted to move forward with the process at their December 9 meeting.
The proposed innovation centre is intended to create and foster jobs in the tech and innovation sector, create development interest in the Railway Street West, Grande Avenue and Bow Street corridor, and establish the Town of Cochrane as a leader in innovation and technology. The transit hub will be the base of operations for COLT buses.
“I’m excited that we are able to deliver this project with no impact to taxes,” said Mayor Jeff Genung. “Bridging historic downtown to the modern side of the tracks will be the first step in revitalizing Railway Street, while promoting our already successful technology industry so that Cochrane stands out as a leader in the innovation sector.”
The transit hub/innovation centre project has been underway for some time: it was identified as part of the Tri-Site concept plan in 2018 and Council approved the business plan in September. With detailed design and costing for construction, Council has now approved moving ahead with an RFP process to begin building.
Construction costs, including on-site servicing, are estimated at $10.5 million.
The project is scheduled to be built at the same time as the $2 million CP Rail pedestrian crossing included in the Town’s 2020-2022 budget (funded by the Community Revitalization Levy).
Nearly half the total —$4.6 million — is coming from provincial GreenTRIP funding. The remaining amount will be funded through $4.4 million in debt financing and a $1.5 million MSI capital grant for the incubator and innovation space.
Based on a 39,275 sq. ft. building, it is assumed that the Town will lease 21,865 sq. ft. at commercial rates. The funds generated will support the incubator space for early stage start-up companies.
After generating commercial lease revenue and paying associated costs of running the facility, net operating income is estimated at $125,902. Financial figures will be refined as plans are finalized.
The Town anticipates releasing the RFP to construct the building in the first quarter of 2020. Occupancy is scheduled for December 2020.