Trans­formed to apart­ments from of­fices

Strate­gic Group opens 177-unit res­i­den­tial build­ing born from re­pur­pos­ing project

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - JA­SON Her­ring @ja­sonfher­ring

a real-es­tate project re­pur­pos­ing a large, va­cant down­town ed­mon­ton of­fice build­ing to a 177-unit res­i­den­tial suite cel­e­brated its of­fi­cial open­ing Mon­day morn­ing.

build­ing owner strate­gic Group con­verted the ag­ing Har­ley court of­fice build­ing at 10045 111 st. into a col­lec­tion of one- and two-bed­room units, re­nam­ing the build­ing to “e11even.”

The cal­gary-based de­vel­op­ment com­pany says it’s the largest of­fice-tores­i­den­tial re­pur­pos­ing project ever com­pleted in al­berta.

“What we had was an of­fice build­ing that was 40 to 45 years old, and real es­tate goes in cy­cles,” said strate­gic Group ceo riaz Mam­dani, who added that de­vel­op­ments of newer, more de­sir­able of­fice spa­ces made Har­ley court “func­tion­ally ob­so­lete.”

ac­cord­ing to the com­mer­cial real es­tate ser­vices canada, ed­mon­ton’s down­town of­fice va­cancy rate was 18.2 per cent at the end of 2018.

Mayor don Iveson says the city’s ap­proach to the high va­cancy rate is to sup­port de­vel­op­ers as they pur­sue their own so­lu­tions, in­clud­ing re­pur­pos­ing projects like this.

“The mar­ket will set the strat­egy and the city’s job is to sup­port in­vestors,” Iveson said.

Iveson hopes the build­ing’s open­ing will help boost nearby busi­nesses.

“We’re see­ing lots of new res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion, par­tic­u­larly rental res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion,” he said. “That’s great for stu­dent life. It sup­ports the busi­nesses on the streets. and it’s good for em­ploy­ers too, be­cause down­town em­ploy­ers now have more op­por­tu­ni­ties for their staff to live close by.”

af­ter a few weeks of rent­ing, the build­ing is about 20 per cent leased. Mam­dani says the hope is to have e11even both fully com­pleted — con­struc­tion is on­go­ing on a few floors of the build­ing — and fully oc­cu­pied around the end of the year.

strate­gic Group is also car­ry­ing out a sim­i­lar project a few blocks away, where it is con­vert­ing the for­mer cen­tre West of­fice build­ing, 10035 108 st., and con­struct­ing an­other six-storey build­ing next door for a to­tal of 214 new res­i­den­tial units.

Mam­dani says that the cost of a com­plete con­ver­sion is one fac­tor that makes projects like th­ese a chal­lenge.

“There’s risks as­so­ci­ated with the costs,” he said. “The dif­fi­culty is in mak­ing sure that the par­tic­u­lar of­fice build­ing works from a res­i­den­tial per­spec­tive.”

ex­ist­ing of­fice space lay­out also presents an ob­sta­cle, one that re­sults in some un­con­ven­tional floor plans for liv­ing spa­ces.

Ed kaiser/postmedia

The Strate­gic Group’s largest re­pur­pos­ing project to date is the e11even, which opened Mon­day.

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