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MacKay Building to be unveiled
Yellowknife-based accounting firm taking over downtown Roman Empire Building

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012

Yellowknife-based accounting firm MacKay LLP is growing. And it is marking its territory with its own building.

NNSL photo/graphic

MacKay LLP partner John Laratta and the rest of the Yellowknife-based accounting firm will be taking over the Roman Empire Building in the new year. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

The firm is buying the Roman Empire Building downtown which, come the new year, will be the new MacKay Building. But partner John Laratta knows how many Yellowknifers will locate the firm after the move.

"You know where MacKay is. It's the old Roman Empire Building," Laratta forecasts people will say, as the managing partner looks forward to the new home of MacKay in the 51 Street building which is currently undergoing major renovations.

"We want it to be a landmark for us and for our clients," Laratta said.

According to Laratta, one of six partners of the Yellowknife firm, along with Janet Toner, Andy Wong, Celestino Oh, Gillian Lee, and emerging partner Fred Deschenes, MacKay has grown to 40 employees from just two when the accounting firm was opened in Yellowknife in 1969.

Last year, as MacKay's current lease at the 49 Street Communications Building expired, the firm had to make a decision to either extend its lease, lease elsewhere, or buy its own property.

Meanwhile, the 9,500 square foot, two-storey Roman Empire Building came onto the market, although it was badly in need of renovations.

The renovations that have been ongoing at the building for the last several weeks are scheduled to be complete by the end of the year, culminating the most thorough overhaul of the inside and outside of the building since it was built more than 40 years ago, said Rod Stirling, Coldwell Banker Northern Bestsellers owner, who said the building's facelift will improve the downtown core.

"The amount of upgrades inside and out will really enhance the building, so I think it will be really refreshing to see an older building revitalized downtown," Stirling said. "It's long overdue on that property."

An estimated 15 tonnes of colourful Yellowknife stone is part of the new skirting and main entrance of the building.

The final design includes an Inukshuk and Northern lights showpiece entrance.

The building was originally built in the mid-1970s by Alfredo and Tina Azzolini, who also built the 52 Street Urbania Building, which is named after the town in Italy where the couple was born, son Louie Azzolini told Yellowknifer.

The Roman Empire was the Azzolinis third building in town, and named to reflect the couple's growing land holdings, but Azzolini said he is not disappointed that the name of the building will change.

"Things change. Every generation makes its impact and certainly by rejuvenating the building and giving it a longer life, I think it's a great thing and they should be able to choose what they name it," Azzolini said.

The building, which previously housed a number of different small businesses, will give MacKay Yellowknife more room to grow, Laratta said.

MacKay LLP has seven offices across western Canada, including its Yellowknife office, and is the 12th largest accounting firm in the country.

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