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Downtown Edmonton Attracting All the Right People

When the $500 million Stantec Tower and the $300 million Edmonton Tower, both located in the ICE District, are completed in 2017, an estimated 1.8 million square feet of office space will be available.


There are 16 other buildings with 60,000 square feet of office space each or greater, that will become available in the next three years or are available now. Nine of them are B-class office space, which is ‘fair to good’, but still not the same as A-class office space. This is a question that Edmonton has always faced, pull them down and construct newer buildings or repurpose them? Fifteen years ago, about 12 office buildings were converted into hotels, condominiums, and assisted-living residences.


The answer may lie somewhere in between. According to Jimmy Shewchuk of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, a non-profit owned by the City of Edmonton, owners only need ‘spruce up’ or upgrade their buildings to attract tenants. He believes that these old buildings, which cannot house large modern offices, could attract startups, thanks to their lower rental rates.


Others think that it is the downtown which is attracting people. The Rogers Place, the new home of the Edmonton Oilers, has officially opened and the opening game of the NHL 2016-17 season was played out here. The Oilers beat the Calgary Flames 4-7, as Wayne ‘The Great One’ Gretzky, who led the Oilers to four Stanley Cup wins, looked on in his new capacity as Vice-Chairman of the team.


Off-pitch, Edmonton seems to be beating Calgary in the real estate market too. Calgary’s office vacancy rate is 22% and expected to increase to 26% by 2018. For Edmonton, it is 13% as of now, which is more or less close to what analysts consider to be ‘healthy’. The Kelly Ramsey Tower in the ICE District (it is now called Enridge Centre), which opened in August 2016, has already been booked by giants like KPMG and Field Law, one of Canada’s Top 10 law firms. Enridge alone will be having 1,400 employees spread over 14 floors of the 25-storeyed building. And for those living in Edmonton, there is Wayne Gretzky’s new Whisky bar at the Edmonton International Airport to look forward to.

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