Conversion of the Enbridge Tower hotel exchanged for rental units in Edmonton

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Hundreds of tenants could live in the old Enbridge tower by next year after plans for a new hotel in downtown Edmonton were swapped for apartments.

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The long-vacant 23-story office tower at the corner of Jasper Avenue and 102nd Street is being converted into a 274-apartment building with studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with retail space on the ground floor. Construction is expected to be completed in March or April 2023.

Management of the reception of the lighthouse planned to convert the space into a hotel after it was purchased in 2018 – the tower has been vacant since Enbridge exited in 2016. But lighthouse chairman Paul Aulakh said uncertainty at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the decline in activity in the city center at the time, caused the company to reconsider.

“There was this dark period where no one was sure what was going to happen,” he said. “There was no one downtown. All hotels were empty everywhere, even in other places where we operated. So in that window, you say, ‘What the fuck is going on? How long will this continue? No one knew the vaccine was going to be found at that time. »

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Aulakh saw a need for rental housing in the heart of the city and decided to shift gears, seeing a need for this type of space.

“We have a mix…so there’s basically an option for everyone. Affordable rents and prices, the studios could be a perfect fit for someone looking for…reasonable rent,” he said. “It’s going to be a very nice development. We basically do the same things we would do in a hotel, so we’re not skimping because it’s a rental.

The building, named ridge tower due to its peaked roof, will include a large gym, a third-floor rooftop patio, and other amenities. Aulakh hopes the location is attractive with LRT access and the area’s ease of walking.

According to the province’s forecast, the construction of the new Hyatt Regency and Hyatt Place hotels is expected to cost $70 million. major projects website. Aulakh did not have an update on the new cost.

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The conversion of office towers to residential buildings is rare in Edmonton, but has become more popular recently in Calgary as that city tries to cope with exorbitant vacancy rates In the city center. In one case, a site was used to create affordable housing.

A preliminary design for the new hotel development is underway in the former Enbridge Tower.  The 23-story building was purchased by Lighthouse Hospitality Management Inc. in late April.  ORG XMIT: POS1807271620285476 ORG XMIT: POS1808011727055836
A preliminary design for the new hotel development is underway in the former Enbridge Tower. The 23-story building was purchased by Lighthouse Hospitality Management Inc. in late April. ORG XMIT: POS1807271620285476 ORG XMIT: POS1808011727055836 Sun Media

Boost in the city center

Chris Buyze, president of the Downtown Edmonton Community League, is happy that more people will soon be living in the area.

“We want Downtown to be sustainable for the long term,” he said. “Having more people living in this particular downtown area is a good thing. This will bring more people to the streets and support businesses in the area. »

He has noticed a push for residential growth by city government and council over the past two decades. If attracting more business to the area isn’t working, he thinks maybe others could look to this example.

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“If that doesn’t happen, we really need to think about what we do with these buildings in the future and I think the future for some of these buildings…is going to be conversion to residential.”

Jason Syvixay, spokesperson for the Urban Development Institute (UDI) Edmonton Metro, said the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an overhaul of public spaces and downtowns across the country.

This particular conversion, he said, is a good example of finding new ways to rebuild downtowns as cities across the country grapple with high vacancy rates amid the pandemic.

“Maybe it’s just a philosophy we should embrace as a city, this idea that everything we build and everything we create should always be thought out with some kind of adaptation in mind.”

Syvixay argued that land use regulations must be flexible and permissive enough to allow for changes over time.

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