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Ten office towers converted to residential in Calgary's core

Five more downtown buildings added to city conversion program that will create more than 1,200 homes, replacing about 1 million square feet of vacant office space

The City of Calgary has added five more office towers to its office-to-housing conversion program, doubling the number of buildings since the development incentive program launched in 2021.

The latest conversion, announced April 19, will eliminate about 500,000 square feet of vacant office space and create 530 residential units.

It is part of a long-range city plan to remove six million square feet of empty offices in a downtown with the highest office vacancy rate in Canada.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek, with representatives of companies undertaking the work, met downtown for the announcement.

The Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program will provide $36.3 million to the five projects from a $153 million conversion fund. Qualifying developers can get up to $75 per square foot for projects, up to a limit of $15 million.

The latest conversions are:

• Petro Chemical Building  (805 8 Avenue SW), by Vancouver- based Cressey Developments;

• Petro Fina Building (736 8 Avenue SW), the second office conversion by People First Development Company;

• Eau Claire Place I (525 3 Avenue SW), by the Cidex Group of Companies;

• Eau Claire Place II (521 3 Avenue SW), by Pacific Reach Properties; and

• The Loft (744 4 Avenue SW), by Institutional Mortgage Capital.

All told, the 10 office-to-residential conversions to date will create 1,237 homes in more than one million square feet of former offices.  The city is also helping to convert two other commercial building outside of the downtown, including the vacant 109,000-square-foot Barron Building, to housing.

Calgary’s downtown is slowing chipping away at an office vacancy rate that had spiked to 30 per cent two years, according to Avison Young. The real estate agency pegged the core vacancy at 27.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2023, down 1.8 per cent from a year earlier.