News   Apr 03, 2020
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Calgary's Downtown Dilemma

Do you mean the NW corner of Century Gardens? Because yeah that's a good point. If they moved a whole faculty or two into the tower, that lot could easily be developed into a student residence mixed use with market rental or condo on the upper floors.
 
you’d have enough space for larger lecture or lab spaces along with smaller spaces all on each floor.
Post secondary has somewhat unique circulation needs. You want all student focused things which are time sensitive accessible by stairs. There is a reason the new buildings at UCalgary are all 4 floors, and the fourth floor (in general) have minimal to no instruction space. Big, low floorplates are good. Anything above that you can't usefully use for grad students and offices you convert to residential. In my mind, Shell stood out, as did Gulf Canada Square, the entire block just east of Nexen.

The biggest barrier isn't space though. Space is cheap compared to operating cost. quarter of a million square feet of post secondary you're talking like $60 million a year in operating costs. Bow Valley College has $120 million annual operating costs.

Until the province is willing to step up and fund a generational expansion of post-secondary, it won't happen. A little more than a year ago a very large investment was killed by the province before it was announced, but after it had almost all the approvals it needed.
 
Post secondary has somewhat unique circulation needs. You want all student focused things which are time sensitive accessible by stairs. There is a reason the new buildings at UCalgary are all 4 floors, and the fourth floor (in general) have minimal to no instruction space. Big, low floorplates are good. Anything above that you can't usefully use for grad students and offices you convert to residential. In my mind, Shell stood out, as did Gulf Canada Square, the entire block just east of Nexen.

The biggest barrier isn't space though. Space is cheap compared to operating cost. quarter of a million square feet of post secondary you're talking like $60 million a year in operating costs. Bow Valley College has $120 million annual operating costs.

Until the province is willing to step up and fund a generational expansion of post-secondary, it won't happen. A little more than a year ago a very large investment was killed by the province before it was announced, but after it had almost all the approvals it needed.
Good point about the stairs. Movements by hundreds or a couple of thousand students in a high-rise would be choked by elevators. Gulf Canada has those large floor plates, and some extra stairs or elevators could even be added. It's too bad Nexen wasn't more practical, it would be a cool building to have as a campus.
 
Good point about the stairs. Movements by hundreds or a couple of thousand students in a high-rise would be choked by elevators. Gulf Canada has those large floor plates, and some extra stairs or elevators could even be added. It's too bad Nexen wasn't more practical, it would be a cool building to have as a campus.
If the cost is low enough, anything is possible. Nexen would be a great traditional residence. Calgary could support a lot more PSE spaces. An expansion that is a full campus/school — a self contained entity, of 5000+ student spots would be a good place to start. $250 million to start and $30 ish million a year.
 
Good point about the stairs. Movements by hundreds or a couple of thousand students in a high-rise would be choked by elevators. Gulf Canada has those large floor plates, and some extra stairs or elevators could even be added. It's too bad Nexen wasn't more practical, it would be a cool building to have as a campus.
The Senator Burns Building at SAIT is 12 floors and wasn't bad when I was in there. If you only have to go a couple floors lots of students would just take the stairs.
 
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This amendment passed, $40 million for the office conversion program... I'd say we're going to see those 17 conversion that were talked about go forward. Really curious about the proposed terms of reference coming to council in Q1 2023 for the post-secondary bit.
 
Really curious about the proposed terms of reference coming to council in Q1 2023 for the post-secondary bit.
I'd guess it would be helping to support a true retrofit on the old central library and/or preparing more of the space inside. Truly a guess, haven't touched this stuff for a couple years now!
 

High office vacancy rates spell continuing trouble for shops dependent on worker foot traffic


Not even a mention of Calgary in this article.

'Toronto's rate has climbed about 10 percentage points. It was at 4.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019. Today, it's 14.7 per cent. Vancouver's rate nearly tripled from 4.1 per cent pre-pandemic to 11.5 per cent today.

Montreal's vacancy rate went from 9.5 per cent in 2019 to 17.4 per cent today and at least one report suggests it may climb to 29 per cent by 2027.'



Calgary was just ahead of the curve, they're all now catching up. Welcome to our nightmare, jump in, the water is warm.


'"I think the days of coming in, sitting at your desk and [working] nine to five are over," said Raymond Wong, operations vice-president in charge of data at the commercial real estate firm Altus Group.

Office vacancy rate data compiled by Altus Group shows a grim trend.'



I'm posting this as I work from home, so it's pretty real for me. I'm about to pack up and head into the office for the rest of the day. But if I don't have to be there all day, I'm not going to be.


Simply providing a desk and an internet connection isn't enough. D'lorio says workers have grown accustomed to working from home. Drawing them back into an office space will require landlords to consider what those workers need.

"Having daycare facilities for children, having gyms and showers so that people can bike in and allowing people that flexibility," D'lorio told CBC.



D'lorio (Luciano D’Iorio, regional president and managing partner at commercial real estate firm CDNGLOBAL Québec) isn't wrong, if the office was a better place to be I'm sure more people would go. For me it would be something as simple as a cool place to eat my lunch. Currently if I'm in the office I stay at my desk.

In a way the high office vacancy could be exciting. It's an opportunity to remake our downtowns in Canada. I assume we'll see more place step into the office to residential conversion game and more residential downtown will just naturally happen. But it's going to be a slow process.
 
I'm not surprised that other cities are catching up, it was just a matter of time. Office attendance will slowly pick up, bit I doubt it'll ever be back at the levels it used to be. In my workplace, the number of people has now surpassed the number of desks and offices by about 10% and there are plans to hire more people. Originally there were plans to take space on the floor below to accommodate growth, but those plans are gone now.
 

It is hard to believe that values have increased what with companies wanting less office space not more, and the vacancy rate is still hovering around 30%. I guess with the value of real estate dropping so much in the last 7 years, there had to be some recovery sooner or later. Interesting that a couple of shopping malls (Chinook at #1) are prominent in the top 10.
 

It is hard to believe that values have increased what with companies wanting less office space not more, and the vacancy rate is still hovering around 30%. I guess with the value of real estate dropping so much in the last 7 years, there had to be some recovery sooner or later. Interesting that a couple of shopping malls (Chinook at #1) are prominent in the top 10.
I think it's more about the demand from companies to be in a high-end space than anything. With the change in hybrid work the competition will be even greater because companies will want to be in spaces that employees want to be in and those spaces will be in the class A and AA buildings. Downtown will really start to turn into a have and have-not. Which is hopefully what the office conversions will help address. I still think this trend will eventually lead to demolitions of buildings because they can't be converted are too expensive to renovate, and are becoming a burden to upkeep.
 

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