Massive new tower proposed for Stephen Avenue

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A local company could make Calgary the tallest building in Western Canada once again, as part of a massive downtown project the likes of which the city hasn’t seen in years.

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Triovest filed a development permit on April 21 with designs for a three-tower mixed-use complex on Stephen Avenue. The project would devour nearly all of 7th and 8th Avenues SW between Center Street S. and 1st Street SW

The architectural designs submitted to the City include a 66-story condo tower, a 54-story rental tower and a 24-story office tower.

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Triovest declined an interview request, but released a statement.

“Our approach to real estate has always been to enhance and enhance properties to reach their full potential,” Ryan Schott, vice president of marketing and communications, said in the release. “This approach includes a thorough exploration of the potential benefits to the community, society and economy.”

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No timeline was given for the project.

The building is designed by local firm Gibbs Gage Architects, which declined to comment.

The Stantec Tower in Edmonton, completed in 2019, currently holds the title with 66 stories and 251 meters. When completed, it ousted Calgary’s Brookfield Place East (56 stories, 247 meters, completed in 2017) from first place.

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Schematics of the proposed Calgary project include ground floor retail space, an 18-story hotel and five levels of underground parking.

The application is still under review and a new land use designation would be required for the site.

While Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she was encouraged by the potential for this level of private investment downtown, she added that there is still a long way to go to get approval.

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“I think any time we get a major request for our downtown, it’s absolutely a sign of faith that we’re in recovery mode,” she said. “When we invest in ourselves like our city has – we’ve committed a quarter of a billion dollars to our downtown revitalization – the private investment that comes in and takes a chance on our city is a very big problem.”

The block has long been the source of revitalization rumors, with other projects failing to materialize. Triovest purchased the historic property in 2016. Former owner Heritage Property Corp. had announced a $30 million project in 2009, which would have restored storefronts and built an automated parking lot, but it never materialized.

This project is designed to maintain the historic storefronts, but also will not encroach on the property of Central United Church at 131 7th Ave. SW, or on the historic BMO building at 140 8th Ave. SW, which currently houses a GoodLife Fitness location.

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Com. Terry Wong, whose Ward 7 comprises the area, said it was important that regardless of the development, the history and heritage of Stephen Avenue Walk be preserved.

“It’s something I’m proud of, it’s our history and our heritage, and we don’t want to lose that,” he said. “We’ve seen a number of implementations where it’s been done very efficiently, but at the same time building very modern contemporary buildings.”

The complex would bring an infusion of new office space to downtown, as Calgary has struggled with high vacancy rates for the past seven years. There are currently about 14 million square feet of vacant office space, or about one-third of the total downtown inventory.

Key to the project are the residential towers, which would alter the city’s skyline, potentially even blocking views of the 59-story Telus Sky, which has become a focal point for many. Several current downtown office towers are being converted – with the help of municipal, provincial and federal grants – into affordable housing, senior housing and other applications.

Local historian and blogger Richard White estimated the total size of the project at 1.9 million square feet, including 750,000 square feet of usable office space.

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White also had the North Residential Tower with 390 units on offer, the South Tower with 402 units, and the Hotel with 176 rooms.

The building’s mixed-use design has the potential to bring more people downtown to live, work and play, which is seen as an essential part of downtown revitalization.

— With files by Stephanie Babych

[email protected]

Twitter: @JoshAldrich03

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