The City of Edmonton and Edmonton Oilers' owner Daryl Katz broke ground on the construction of a new downtown office building that will one day house a majority of the city's staff.

The city will lease about 60 per cent of the 27-storey office tower from the Katz Group when it opens in the fall of 2016. The building is located on the corner of 101st  Street and 104th Avenue in the downtown arena district. 

“There is a renewed sense of pride and confidence and optimism in our city,” said Mayor Don Iveson at the groundbreaking Thursday. “There is no better example of this confidence than the construction cranes we see scattered throughout our downtown.”

Iveson said this office tower in particular will transform not only the downtown, but also the city as an organization.

“Consolidating thousands of city staff into one building is going to improve our efficiency,” Iveson said.

City staff are currently scattered in nine buildings across downtown. Some of the leases expire in 2016.

“It’s going to save time and money for the city and it’s also going to encourage and nurture a culture of creativity, innovation and collaboration among our staff,” said Iveson.

“It will be a beautiful new addition to our skyline and present a new face to the world of a dynamic and progressive city,” said Katz, chairman of the Katz Group. “It will help bring new life to what we believe will be Canada’s most vibrant, most welcoming and most exciting urban centre.”

About 2,000 city staff will be transferred to the new building once it is completed.

Katz quiet about additional plans

Katz — a man of few words and fewer public appearances — said the project is only the beginning for this corner of downtown, which will see about $500 million in developments.

However, he was very coy about revealing any details about the projects.

“It’ll become more apparent as we announce what our plans are,” said Katz. “I think there’ll be no doubt that Edmonton is fast becoming one of the most vibrant cities — particularly downtown — in the country.”