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Calgary's Downtown Dilemma

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.
I hear ya. There are lot of older high rise buildings that will fall into that category. I can't imagine the cost of gutting and taking down a 20-25 floor office building ... and then redevelop the property as a high rise residential. No one is going to put up another office building in it's place.
 
I wonder what the going rate is for a parking lot downtown or in the beltline? If you already own the land, at some point it must be more economical to keep the land and take down the structure. We're not there yet at all but factor in the vacant building costs and it must be considered.
 
Nope. The reduction only includes the 5 already completed or underway.
 

Does anyone really think that any government action, especially funding, could actually accelerate dt revitalization at this point? Many office to residential projects are already in the pipeline and the cannibalization effect isn't well understood. Neither is the long term trajectory of WFH The City should focus on alleviating safety concerns and minimizing tax increases that would make dt businesses even less competitive. I agree with the Pemier that bailing out the underperforming real estate assets of Ontario based, public sector pension funds is the lowest of priorities. At some point, the market values of obsolete assets will decline to a point where the private sector can pick them at values that support conversion or demolition.
 
Does anyone really think that any government action, especially funding, could actually accelerate dt revitalization at this point? Many office to residential projects are already in the pipeline and the cannibalization effect isn't well understood. Neither is the long term trajectory of WFH The City should focus on alleviating safety concerns and minimizing tax increases that would make dt businesses even less competitive. I agree with the Pemier that bailing out the underperforming real estate assets of Ontario based, public sector pension funds is the lowest of priorities. At some point, the market values of obsolete assets will decline to a point where the private sector can pick them at values that support conversion or demolition.
Yes I think that government action can help accelerate a revitalization of downtown.
The city needs to focus on safety concerns, and other issues of course, but if the government can put in some extra funding and help convert a few buildings then all the better.
We could wait and let the pension funds eventually devalue the buildings to the point that they’re economically feasible without government funding, but that could be 10 or 15 years, maybe longer. The vacancy rate has been over 25% for seven years now and it hasn’t brought the value of the buildings down very much..
Also, you mentioned work from home trends, which makes it all the more reason to do this now. If you try and revitalize the downtown 20 years from now it’ll be too late. I’d rather see the government put 100 million into it now and help offset the chance that it will become a completely deserted office Park in 15 years. At least now the downtown is still semi vibrant and is desirable enough to draw people into living there.

I find it rich that Danielle Smith is worried about this amount of money going towards revitalizing to downtown. I mean $100 million is only a fraction of what the UCP is spending on the keystone pipeline and cleaning up orphaned wells.
 
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I agree with Alex, if we’re going to revitalize, now is the time to do it. It’s much easier to revitalize a Downtown that’s already half revitalized, then it is trying to revitalize one that’s dead.
We’re at a dangerous point right now with downtown, if we let it go it could sink to a point of no return.
I’m sure it would be cheaper to convert to building 15 years from now when downtown is completely dead but, nobody’s gonna want to do it at that point. Also, a dead downtown without people isn’t going to help with the crime situation, filling the downtown with more people will help.
 
Does anyone really think that any government action, especially funding, could actually accelerate dt revitalization at this point? Many office to residential projects are already in the pipeline and the cannibalization effect isn't well understood. Neither is the long term trajectory of WFH The City should focus on alleviating safety concerns and minimizing tax increases that would make dt businesses even less competitive. I agree with the Pemier that bailing out the underperforming real estate assets of Ontario based, public sector pension funds is the lowest of priorities. At some point, the market values of obsolete assets will decline to a point where the private sector can pick them at values that support conversion or demolition.
Obviously government action could help revitalize downtown; there's a ton of public physical infrastructure, like sidewalks and roads that are both technically out of date and physically decaying. The private sector is never going to fix those.

Retail and public-facing companies can easily get caught in a death spiral, where the businesses that are there aren't appealing, so nobody goes there, so the businesses that can afford to move out, so even fewer people go there, and all the while the fewer businesses can't support public space maintenance or enhancements. Look at every mall in the city that's failed or failing; from Deerfoot to North Hill, to Marlborough to Eau Claire to Northland to Westbrook to even New Horizon, plus plenty of smaller ones. None of them come back on their own; the best they can do is eventually get massively redeveloped with huge physical changes; Deerfoot is the furthest along, but Northland is now starting.

But the time scales are immense; Eau Claire opened in 1993, was financially underwater and failing in 1998, and it hasn't gotten better since. Now, 25 years after it started to fail, it's going to be demolished, but only because of external circumstances. Deerfoot opened in 1981 but by the early 90s it was failing. It took 25 years of downward spiraling before the Deerfoot City rebuild plan started in 2017. A downtown is a lot more complex and hard to deal with than a single property mall; we shouldn't abandon it so that in 2050 it's such a wasteland that investors can buy the failing buildings cheaply enough to renovate it so that by 2060 it's started to reclaim it's former glory. It's a lot cheaper to fund the public investment -- especially since we are currently dripping in money -- and maintain it as a competitive place all along. How many billions of road and rail infrastructure have been built to get people downtown? And why would we abandon that investment for generations?

As long as you're parroting UCP talking points, why is the premier OK with government assistance to the oilsands? The largest owners of Cenovus are Boston Partners, Egerton Capital UK LLP and Connor Clark & Lunn (Toronto). The largest owners of Suncor are Sanders Capital LLC (West Palm Beach, FL), Arrowstreet Capital LP (Boston) and 1832 Asset Management (Toronto). Is it because they give their profits to rich people rather than people who work for a living?
 
Does anyone really think that any government action, especially funding, could actually accelerate dt revitalization at this point? Many office to residential projects are already in the pipeline and the cannibalization effect isn't well understood. Neither is the long term trajectory of WFH The City should focus on alleviating safety concerns and minimizing tax increases that would make dt businesses even less competitive. I agree with the Pemier that bailing out the underperforming real estate assets of Ontario based, public sector pension funds is the lowest of priorities. At some point, the market values of obsolete assets will decline to a point where the private sector can pick them at values that support conversion or demolition.
I see what you mean and don't neccessarily disagree. I think the public funding is best spent on executing on major public realm improvements to make the neighbourhood more attractive for residential redevelopment scenarios. As it stands the downtown revitalization plan is so vague and devoid of details that they need to add the things that would create more interest for a residential developer. ie. wider sidewalks, more tree line assignments, curb extensions and a much better pedestrian environment. On top of that i think incentives to push retail and restaurants from the +15 level into the ground floors of existing buildings would help a lot because then local amenities would actually be open after 5:00pm (amenities would be open when people get home from work that live downtown). That could get rid of the chicken and the egg problem of if you need amenities to lure residential development or if you need more occupied beds to support the retail. The buildings are losing value and the institutional investors need to buck up and execute on a new vision, but the City has to present a better articulated vision for the downtown plan that is more detailed and better than it currently stands and show they can and are willing to execute on it. The public realm improvements in the EV are a good example of how that those improvements can catalyze interest from resi builders, if done well.
 
Subsidization of these office conversions with public money is such a waste - any dollars should be spent as Calgcouver says - on improving the downtown environment so that people might actually want to live there. The city needs to stop treating downtown as a cash cow and invest some of the property tax revenue generated there back into the district.

The fact that paying developers to convert these buildings seems to be the best idea we've come up with is concerning.
 

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