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Two more office conversions planned for downtown Calgary

Two more Calgary office buildings are receiving a cash injection to convert their space to residential.

The announcement brings to five the number of buildings that have received funding from a $100 million pool of cash for the Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program.

The two projects – United Place (808 – 4 Avenue SW) and Canadian Centre (833 – 4 Avenue SW) will remove roughly 250,000 square feet of office space. The five projects to date will remove roughly 655,000 square feet of space by 2024. The city has a goal of six million feet removed from the inventory.

“These two projects, along with previously announced projects, will help transform the downtown West and Eau Claire neighbourhoods into key destinations for Calgarians and visitors alike,” said Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong.

United Place (808 – 4 Avenue SW)

Artist’s rendition of the United Place. CONTRIBUTED

This project will convert 88,000 square feet of office space into 81 different homes. It will have a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

The United Place vision includes an outdoor café and plaza seating area, along with a community flex space, a rooftop patio, fitness room and daycare.

It will also have space for EV charging stations for both bikes and cars.

United Canadian Investments Inc. CEO Sarbjeet Sahota said they hope to begin construction in early 2023. In ideal conditions, they will complete and start welcoming tenants in 2024.

“United Canadian Investment Inc. is excited to transform this property located at such a prominent corner of the west end of downtown into a residential building and to offer a great mix of residential units, and community amenities like a daycare, café and outdoor plaza space,” said Sahota.

Canadian Centre (833 – 4 Avenue SW)

Roughly 163,000 square feet of office space will be transformed as a part of the Canadian Centre conversion.

It will offer fully furnished apartments and short-term rental units.  When complete, the Canadian Centre will create 225 new downtown homes.

The project contains a main floor café and patio, bicycle parking and repair facilities, a second-floor restaurant and gathering area, along with outdoor gathering spaces on the 10-12 floors.

“PBA is honoured to contribute to such a meaningful revitalization program that will bring life back to an area of our city that has no doubt felt its challenges,” said James Scott, VP of Corporate Development, PBA Group of Companies.

Phase one reopens

The City of Calgary is reopening phase one of the downtown conversion program. There’s $27 million still left in the $100 million.

Applications will be open from July 15 to Sept. 9.

The program offers $75 per square foot, based on gross area, with grants up to $10 million.

“The first phase of our program has been extremely successful so far, with ongoing interest from developers being high,” said Thom Mahler, director of The City’s Downtown Strategy business unit.

“We have estimated that approximately six million square feet of office space needs to be removed from the market to help address downtown office vacancy and stabilize downtown office property values over the next decade.”

The city expects to open up Phase 2 with an expression of interest. That phase will focus on redevelopment that’s not geared towards residential conversions. It might include hotels, post-secondary, laboratories or neighbourhood amenities.