| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013 06:00 am
The last vacant lot downtown is sold. And Jeff Richards, president of St. Albert-based JDR Insurance, said it will be filled by one handsome building.
"It's a brand new office building … It's going to be a modern yet old-looking structure. It's all brick and glass, there is no stucco," he said.
Richards said after leasing office space above Vineyard Wine Market on 41 St. Thomas St. for 10 years, he decided it was time for a move.
So when the property beside their office came up for sale, he and his wife put in their bid and bought the lot in May 2011.
Construction of the 7000-sq.-foot, two-storey building is to start in March. JDR Insurance will move into the second floor in January 2014 and lease the lower level to another business.
"We are leaving some space for expansion," Richards said.
"We had the potential to lease out a little extra space in the upper floor but given our growth strategies we decided to take the whole upper floor."
JDR Insurance was founded in St. Albert in 2001. Richards, who comes from an insurance background, said he built the company from scratch.
In the past 10 years, he expanded the company to offices in Morinville, Athabasca, Redwater and Thorhild.
The insurance bureau is also taking over another rural broker in October, but Richards said it's too early to announce whom that will be.
The head office remains in St. Albert.
"If I could transplant an old building from Quebec City and push it in that lot, that would be exactly what I want," he said, adding that it turned out too difficult to build to that style.
Instead, he worked with the architect on creating a house that would please the eye of the community – with no stucco, and a back made of 100 per cent brick.
"I wanted it to look like it was the oldest building downtown," he said.