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Tech company stays loyal to core despite safety concerns: President



Tech company stays loyal to core despite safety concerns: President

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A London technology company has made a long-term commitment to the city’s downtown, signing a 10-year lease at Citi Plaza and making a pledge of support for the core.

London Mayor Josh Morgan and police chief Thai Truong earned an assist on the signing as they met recently with about eight downtown London businesses to assure them more will be done to keep their employees safe.

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Gaming company Digital Extremes was one of the businesses. 

“We really liked the fact that the mayor and chief reached out to us,” president Sheldon Carter said. “We worry about safety, we want our people to feel safe and comfortable.”

Digital Extremes, maker of the game Warframe, has 500 employees in the downtown space formerly known as Galleria London, and it has leased 70,000 square feet.

“This is our home. This is where the company has grown,” said Carter, a London native.

“This is where we have put down our roots. We know there are challenges downtown, but we want to be part of the solution.”

Digital Extremes was started in London about 30 years ago and has been located in Citi Plaza for about 14 years ago.

As for Morgan and Truong reaching out to businesses, it began when London commercial realtor George Kerhoulas, with Cushman Wakefield, contacted Morgan to tell him about a Londoner who was pushed into the street by a homeless person.

“We responded to concerns about public safety. It was a very broad conversation but there was talk of them possibly relocating,” Morgan said.

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“We met with many businesses. There is a real concern for their employees.”

Although no specific measures were pledged, there was discussion about making the downtown safer, Morgan said.

“It was made clear to me public safety is a key factor in decision making. It is very important to businesses and we saw this as supporting economic development,” he said.

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Commercial realty firm CBRE recently reported the vacancy rate for commercial space downtown is 30.4 per cent — its highest ever.

“I think there are signs we are turning the corner. It feels better than it was 18 months ago,” Morgan said.

Kerhoulas, who brokered the deal involving Digital Extremes, praised Morgan and Truong for listening to the concerns of downtown businesses.

“We have the biggest digital gaming company in Southwestern Ontario making this commitment. It means a lot.

“They could go anywhere. Any renewal where employees are highly paid and highly skilled and is growing, is big.”

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Kerhoulas also gave credit to Citi Plaza management, specifically Bonnie Wludyka, for improving security at the building.

“They have done a lot of work increasing the security and amenities for the tenants,” he said.

Digital Extremes is holding TenoConn 2024 at RBC Place London. About 2,000 gamers are expected to attend the convention on July 19 and 20 to discuss Warframe and learn about the company’s newest release Soulframe.

“We will get people from all over the world,” Carter said. “We get asked all the time, ‘Why not do this in Toronto?’ but we want to bring fans here. It is very cool.”

Digital Extremes was bought by a company called LeYou in 2014 and in 2020 a business named Tencent bought LeYou.

But the sales have not affected operations, Carter said.

“We are still an independent, London company.” 

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