Many business owners know the dread of renegotiating an office lease when rental rates are going up all around them.
If they’re a homeowner, they also know why they once traded up from an apartment to a house – to get stability and control in their residence, and to build equity instead of enriching a landlord.
Yet the two concepts – office space and ownership – have rarely been combined in the minds of Calgary entrepreneurs until recently.
Enter The Brownstones, an attractive three-storey office condominium complex to be built over the next 10 months in the Beltline district. It gives business owners requiring 3,000 to 3,500 square feet of office space an opportunity to be owners and kiss goodbye to rental stress for good.
Though currently a parking lot at 231 – 10th Ave. S.E., the site will soon be under construction. It will become a 45,000-square-foot building built by renowned Poon McKenzie Architects, complete with underground parking.
|From left, Peter Mayerchak of J.J. Barnicke, Poon McKenzie Architects principals Stephen Suen and Bruce McKenzie, and developer Ken Delf joined forces to create a sensational office condo project known as The Brownstones.|
Poon McKenzie will show its pride in the building by occupying the entire first floor. Above that, two of the eight condo units have been spoken for.
Demand is expected to be high for the remaining six units, says Brownstones representative Ken Delf.
Because of the building’s steel-and-concrete construction, there is built-in design flexibility to accommodate purchasers needing just under 3,000 square feet, all the way to 3,500 square feet.
Delf says the concept is relatively new in this part of Canada, but one that holds a lot of appeal for small to medium-sized businesses needing office (not retail) space.
“An office condominium lets you own your own space as opposed to renting and watching all that rental money go to somebody else,” he says.
“It’s an opportunity to fix your costs long-term and create investment that holds its value, as opposed to being at the mercy of some landlord who can charge you whatever the market permits at the time.”
Realtor Peter Mayerchak of J.J. Barnicke Calgary Ltd., sales agent for The Brownstones, says: “What you’re doing is creating some equity as opposed to a liability. That’s effectively what a lease is – a liability on the books.”
Architectural renderings of the building show it will be an eye-catching blend of modern and traditional elements – appropriate for the neighbourhood. A front facade consisting almost entirely of brick and glass will complement the adjacent brick building just to the east, under the same ownership of The Brownstones. It’s almost 100 years old and fully rented.
The Brownstones will be the newest project in one of the city’s hottest areas for rebirth. Located just south of the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks that form the southern boundary of Calgary’s core, the Beltline district offers city-centre accessibility with few of the headaches. City Hall and the LRT are within about a two-block walk, and the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts is even closer.
Yet 10th Avenue is far easier to enter and exit by car. That’s true even during rush hours, thanks in part to the one-way 11th and 12th Avenues nearby, which move high traffic volumes efficiently.
Other developers are embarking on classy Beltline projects that will enhance the area, which is close to Stampede Park’s planned northern expansion. Part of the Beltline also encompasses Calgary’s warehouse district, another stretch south of the tracks that’s being creatively revitalized with a respect for history.
“There’s a huge amount of activity down here,” Mayerchak says.
Buildings like The Brownstones have been a popular choice for business owners in Toronto, Vancouver and many U.S. cities for years, while generally absent in this part of Canada.
“The office condominium concept has been slow to catch on in Calgary, but it is now beginning to gain momentum,” Mayerchak says.
“In this circumstance, when you try to launch something that’s relatively new, purchasers are often cautious. But with the many benefits of this project, including perfect location and the financial practicality, we expect to sell the balance of the units quite quickly.”
Delf believes the financial picture will be a strong draw for purchasers, whose occupancy costs are likely to be lower in their own office condo than in someone else’s premises.
“At the end of the five-year term, which is normal leasing, he has created some equity by virtue of principle reduction of the mortgage,” Delf says.
“Therefore, even if you grow and want to move, there’s a rental market here.”
Mayerchak adds, “The most important idea is this is a solid investment and will continue to be.”
For more information, call Peter Mayerchak at 403.215.7256.