By Joanne Paulson
Like a growing family, the Saskatoon Region Association of Realtors (SRAR) needed to move up and spread out. It had been apparent for some time, but last October, SRAR finally found a spacious home that fulfilled the requirements of an active membership and a staff of 10. It officially celebrated the move to an expansive building at 1705 McKercher Dr. this spring.
The building will also serve as the centre-north office of new the provincial real estate body that will launch in January 2020.
SRAR’s former location on Saskatoon’s busy Eighth Street sold for a significant sum, allowing for the upgrade from just 3,700 square feet to over 13,000. Staff members, who were doubled up in cramped offices, are now able to work in spaces of their own.
“We had to take some of our meetings and training off site,” says Jason Yochim, the organization’s CEO. “We had very limited parking, as well. We felt we didn’t need the exposure provided by being on such a busy street, but we did feel we could capitalize on the return on the building. It enabled us to triple our footprint.”
Visitors to the new building are greeted by a large lobby and open reception area, leading to hallways stretching left, right and to the back. The building is well-insulated and offers excellent acoustics; even the large, window-rimmed boardroom overlooking the main street is remarkably quiet and can easily accommodate a board of 12 members.
A large auditorium, with an adjacent kitchen, can host 200 members in theatre-style setup and 110 in banquet formation. A former indoor garage has been converted into a classroom with 20 seats, and another, smaller meeting room works well for small groups.
In total, the building is fitted with 20 offices, eight of them taken up by SRAR staff. Its size has allowed SRAR to rent part of the space, including a portion to the Association of Saskatchewan Realtors (ASR).
“The convenience of having the Saskatchewan group here is huge, for informal meetings, joint meetings and for sharing resources,” says Yochim. Having tenants has also “enabled us to make the move without increasing our membership fees.”
He says he is also pleased with the building’s considerable level of comfort.
“My staff is important to me, and it’s a very comfortable work space they enjoy being in.”
The location is better for both staff and visitors in other ways. The parking lot has 20 staff spots and 20 visitors’ stalls. Considerable street parking is available, and an adjacent parking area can take more vehicles when meetings are held.
On top of it all, the building was originally constructed to support a second floor as the 108-year-old organization grows.
“My personal vision was that we would have space for all of that with room to expand,” says Yochim. “This building isn’t just for five to 10 years out, but for future decades, as our city and our membership grow.
“We’re really thinking forward to a larger organization, and that this location will serve this region of the province.”
For that reason, among others, it was important that the building was fit up with technology to connect with members locally and across the province, to facilitate meetings and education. Yochim noted the SRAR membership and board were very supportive of the move.
Board president Gary Busch, owner/broker of Century 21 Fusion, says the move was necessary and went very smoothly.
“We literally had offices inside of offices at the old location,” he says. “We’ve grown in staff; we’ve grown in services and we have to put them somewhere.
“In addition, it was time to buy low – the market was soft in the commercial world – and we lucked out in getting a fantastic building that suits our needs and future needs for many years to come.”
Adding the technology for training was important to Busch, as well.
“Here we can have dedicated visual equipment set up so people not in Saskatoon can participate as well. That was really key. For the future, this was the perfect building for classrooms, parking, meeting space and offices at a minimal expense to get it up to speed.”
Joanne Paulson is writer, editor and principal of JCP Communications in Saskatoon. She submitted this article on behalf of SRAR.