As new, shining office towers point skywards, Edmonton’s older office buildings are emptying. The sterile, concrete block buildings that used to mark the city’s downtown are becoming obsolete.
So, what to do? Knock them down? In the case of The Capital, a two-phase residential project on 108th Street south of Jasper Avenue, it’s about repurposing an old, 13-storey office building and an adjoining surface parking lot. The office building has been transformed into a modern luxury rental property, while Phase 2 — which has just opened — saw a new residential complex go up where there was once just a surface parking lot.
“We had, formerly, a fully functional but obsolete office building,” says Laurel Edwards, senior vice president of Strategic Group, which manages the building. “So, the most sustainable building is one you don’t have to demolish.”
The project has a total of 214 units and includes a gym and a 13th-floor patio with outdoor barbecue areas that offer a panoramic view of the city. There are boardrooms available in the lobby — and some of the parking stalls have electric chargers.
By deciding to renovate rather than rebuild, Edwards estimates a potential 18,000 tons of waste didn’t go to the landfill.
The building adds to the growing trend of downtown being revitalized not by condos, but by rentals. From the Sky Signature Suites in the Ice District to the Mayfair on 109th Street, “rental” — not “condo” — has become the buzzword when it comes to development in the city.
Even with other projects, Edwards sees that the city has a shortage of rentals.
“What we saw is a lack of purpose-built rental apartments in the Alberta region as a whole,” says Edwards. “Other municipalities across North America have purpose-built rental units. We just want to give renters the same level of quality that a condo owner would have.
“This is a fantastic location. We’re right in the core of Edmonton. We saw an opportunity for residents. You’re just up Capital Boulevard. And it was an opportunity because this building made a lot of sense, it was never going to be used as an office building again. Let’s get people downtown. Let’s create an environment that people want to live and work in.”