Two more downtown Calgary office buildings being transformed into residences

·3 min read
United Place is one of five office buildings in downtown Calgary being transformed for residential use.  (Paula Duhatschek/CBC - image credit)
United Place is one of five office buildings in downtown Calgary being transformed for residential use. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC - image credit)

Two more office buildings in downtown Calgary have gotten the green light from the city to be converted into residential spaces.

United Place and Canadian Centre, both on Fourth Avenue in the west end of downtown near the Bow River, will have their vacant office spaces turned into homes.

The move comes after three other downtown buildings were previously approved by the city to be converted in April.

"By bringing more residents in the downtown core, it allows us to create a greater vibrancy. And both in terms of enjoying our retail and restaurant district, but also enjoying places such as Prince's Island Park and the river walkway," said Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong.

Submitted by City of Calgary
Submitted by City of Calgary

All five of the buildings that are being converted with financial assistance from a $100-million fund the city started in 2021 as part of the Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program, have struggled to fill their floors with office tenants.

United Place and Canadian Centre have been approved to get about $18.4 million from the city after construction is finished, the city said in a statement.

The two projects will see about 251,000 square feet of office space transformed into 306 homes.

Paula Duhatschek/CBC
Paula Duhatschek/CBC

"These two additional office to residential projects will create much needed homes and amenities which are key components to attract more people into our inner city communities," said Mayor Jyoti Gondek in a statement.

Wong said he believes some people will be attracted to living in units that don't have the same costs as owning a home in the suburbs.

"You think about the cost of maintaining a single family house in the 'burbs, both in terms of landscaping insurance and all the other things. There's a bit of a cachet about living in the downtown core without that expense. And what that gives you is more time to actually enjoy the city," he said.

"If you want to create downtown as a place to live, work and play, it's got to be a place that's clean and safe, it's got to be a must-visit destination, it's got to be a great experience. And that's what Disneyland is. That's what we can create here."

Submitted by City of Calgary
Submitted by City of Calgary

Wong and the owners of the buildings all expressed affordability is a factor for these units, however prices for rentals or for purchasing units are still unknown.

Canadian Centre will offer full-furnished apartments and rental units, and United Place will be selling a mix of studio, one, two and three-bedroom units.

Mandeep Tathgur, one of the owners of the United Place, said he is thankful the city started this program because they were struggling to get office tenants.

He thinks the building's location will entice people to live downtown.

"We got the park, we got the Bow River. So it's a central location. So this is the right fit. So people will love it staying over here," said Tathgur.

James Scott with the PBA Group of Companies, the developer behind Canadian Centre, said the building has great views for future tenants.

"The views actually off the top of the building are quite incredible, looking to the northwest over sunnyside and Kensington and out to the mountains."

However, a lot of work will still need to be done to make sure the buildings meet residential code requirements.

Both conversions are expected to wrap up in 2024.

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