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Three projects continue downtown Calgary’s residential evolution

One new downtown conversion project, one expanded project, and a project that’s shifted focus were added to the mix to help turn Calgary’s downtown into a residential destination.

The projects – by Alston Properties and Slate Asset Management, Aspen Properties and PBA Group of Companies – are expected to remove 675,000 square feet of downtown office space.

“It’s exciting to announce three projects today that are tackling office conversions in different ways – through climate resilient initiatives, by building much needed long-stay hotel rooms, and accelerating housing delivery,” said Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

With the Dominion Centre, Palliser One, and Element by Westin, the City of Calgary expects to improve climate resilience measures within the constructions and renovations. 

“One of the things I find extremely important is that Calgary continues to be a must-visit destination, a great experience, a place where we can prosper, we can enjoy life and bring our friends or family from around the world here,” said Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong, on the building downtown connections strategy open house.

Alston Properties and Slate Asset Management’s Dominion Centre (665 – 8 Street SW) will receive funding through the office-to-residential conversion program to create 132 homes. They’ll also receive funding through the Downtown Retrofit Challenge, a newly-announced program to improve a building’s climate resiliency and reduce emissions. In that program, developers are encouraged to improve the building envelope to minimize heat loss and incorporate heat recovery ventilators in buildings.

“Twenty-five per cent of the units will be rented at affordable rates and the building will exceed the 2017 National Energy Code for new buildings by a target of 25 per cent,” said Bryce Alston of Alston Properties.

“North America is watching, and they witnessed a city catalyzing transformation and revitalization through investments like these announced today.” 

Carolyn Bowen, Director, Climate and Environment for the City of Calgary, said retrofitting buildings rather than demolishing them reduces greenhouse gases in itself by limiting the amount of materials headed to landfills.

“The Dominion Centre being awarded the inaugural Downtown Retrofit Challenge funding is a great first step to demonstrate that even retrofit projects in our downtown can achieve high energy efficiency standards and can take the needed steps to support our city’s climate resiliency efforts and to lower utility bills,” she said.

More homes, less office space

Aspen Properties’ Palliser One project (125 – 9 Avenue SW), will be a conversion of approximately 415,000 square feet of office space to 395 units, featuring a mix of one- and two-bedroom is projected to save 7.8 million kilograms of CO2 greenhouse gases are a testament to our dedication to the environment by repurposing this asset. This is the second phase of this project.

“What makes this project truly outstanding is not just the sheer scale but also the inclusion of amenities that enhance the quality of life for its residents,” said Rob Blackwell from Aspen Properties.

“This project will have approximately 25 per cent affordable prices for rent and we’ll set out to prove that a converted office building can compete with a purpose-built apartment building.”

The Element by Westin, led by PBA Group of Companies (833 – 4 Avenue SW) will take approximately 168,000 square feet of office space and convert it into 226 long-stay hotel rooms and hotel facilities. 

This project will also be committed to smart eco-friendly features including vehicle charging to reduce emissions, using recycled materials as much as possible in design, construction and room décor, and eco-friendly bathroom features, including low-flow fixtures.

“It’s very exciting for our downtown and especially the west end of our downtown where we’re sitting today,” said Coun. Wong.

“The West End has been an area that’s suffered from disinvestment for many years and these two projects of the three that we announced today, starting their investment in the West End is a good thing.”

The City of Calgary said that they’ve seen tremendous interest from the private sector for these conversion projects. In October, the City had to pause the intake on their downtown conversion program because the available funding had been exhausted.

“We have 17 projects in our pipeline currently and are committed to working with other levels of government to secure funding to expand that number as we move into the new year,” said Sheryl McMullen, Manager of Investment and Marketing for the Downtown Strategy.