It’s not much to look at now. But there’s no question about what’s happening beneath the boards at 345 4 Ave. S.W.
Calgary Place I and Calgary Place II are steppin’ out.
Two of downtown Calgary’s first highrise office towers are undergoing a $19-million facelift as part of a redevelopment plan that will bring these vintage downtown properties in line with other prime leasing space located in Calgary’s core business district, says Brad Krizan, director of office leasing for Oxford Properties Group.
The work began this September and, if all goes according to plan, the redevelopment should be complete by the end of December 2005.
|Illustration courtesy of Gibbs Gage Architects|
|Calgary Place’s central common area’s Plus-15 level redesign will feature a large skylight.|
Finished in 1969, the two towers of Calgary Place and a central common two-level retail area are owned and managed by Oxford Properties.
That company bought the property in 2001 and initially planned the redevelopment for 2002, says Krizan. “All along, we saw the vision. This was a great, centrally located piece of real estate that we wanted to redevelop and enhance the value of.”
The original start date was postponed, but the project went back on track this fall with a redevelopment design that includes a major shift away from what Krizan describes as “a very institutional look.”
The new design, by WZMH Group Architects and Gibbs Gage Architects, includes extensive work to the Plus- 15 level of the central common.
One of the biggest changes includes the addition of a large skylight to replace the former sunshine ceiling illuminated by artificial lights. As part of the reconstruction, changes will also be made to the roof of the common area, which already includes a natural rooftop garden accessed by tenants during the summer months.
|Illustration courtesy of Gibbs Gage Architects|
|Oxford’s redevelopment plan for Calgary Place is one of the largest in the downtown core.|
When the project is complete, people on the remodelled Plus-15 level will also be able to look down onto the main floor.
Opening the Plus 15 to the ground level ensures more natural light will reach the updated entryways of the common area, says Krizan.
Ground-level changes include dramatic improvements to the entrances of each office tower and the common area.
The ground- and Plus-15 levels of the central common have been underutilized in terms of their retail offerings for many years, admits Krizan.
Oxford expects the changes to attract new retail tenants, providing a richer amenity mix for office-tower workers.
Building upgrades also include new elevator cabs in both towers.
“From an investment side, we’re anticipating a greater return through upgrading the building,” says Krizan.
Jim Rea says the project is welcome news.
A senior partner with commercial real estate consultants Colliers International, Rea agrees the space has been underutilized for years, especially given its prime location near the Petroleum Club and Westin Hotel. “You couldn’t get a more central location in the heart of the oilpatch,” says Rea.
While the location and some physical details, including floor plates and large windows, work for many mid-sized firms, Rea says the 30-plus-year-old buildings were known as “B buildings in an A location.”
Located at the geographic heart of downtown Calgary, Calgary Place is accessible via indoor Plus-15 bridges in all four directions.
Not counting the new court house, “this is really the biggest redevelopment that’s being done in the downtown core that the business people can benefit from,” adds Krizan.
The two towers and central common area span 574,200 sq. ft. of leasable office space and 44,314 sq. ft. of leasable retail property. Calgary Place I has 31 floors, while Calgary Place II has 25. Both buildings have storage on the upper two floors, says Krizan.
In anticipation of the redevelopment and a long-term plan to attract mid-sized companies looking for office or retail space with room for future expansion, Oxford purposefully has been leaving a large part of Calgary Place vacant when leases expired since assuming ownership in 2001.
“We knew we were doing a big redevelopment” and wanted to start fresh, says Krizan.
He anticipates some 130,000 sq. ft. will be available in Calgary Place I and Calgary Place II in June 2005.
Under a new management plan, the two towers will each have multi-tenant floors to serve as buffers between floors leased by mid-sized companies. As these mid-sized anchor tenant companies expand, Calgary Place will use the buffer floors to accommodate their demand for more office space, explains Krizan.
It’s a good move, says Rea. With a booming energy sector prompting company expansion, a lot of clients are asking brokers to help them secure office space with the flexibility for future growth.
Oxford Properties Group owns 11 buildings in Calgary, covering about six million sq. ft. of office space. About a third of that is in the A market of the downtown core.
(Joy Gregory can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)