Calgary’s first office-to-housing conversion to begin construction
Two prominent non-profit organizations have joined forces to convert a vacant downtown office tower into homes for Calgarians in need. Inn from the Cold and HomeSpace Society are partnering on a first-of-its kind project that addresses the desperate need for affordable housing in Calgary.
Construction crews will soon begin work at Sierra Place, located on the C-Train line at the corner of 7th Avenue and 6th Street S.W. Once renovations are complete, the 10-storey building will feature six floors and 82 units of affordable housing for vulnerable populations including low-income women, women with children, Indigenous people, and newcomers to Calgary. The remaining four floors will house shelter, transitional and support services. Gibbs Gage Architects designed the conversion for the project.
“Sierra Place marks the first time a vacant office tower in Calgary has been converted into affordable housing,” says Bernadette Majdell, CEO, HomeSpace. “Nearly one out of every three office towers in our city’s core are sitting empty, at the same time that Calgary is in desperate need of 15,000 affordable homes. This project makes sense and in just over a year, nearly 200 Calgarians will have a place to call home, in a prime location with easy access to transit and essential amenities.”
“As our city emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever that non-profits come together and use creativity to solve problems,” says Heather Morley, Executive Director, Inn from the Cold. “Inn from the Cold and HomeSpace are working together on this first-of-its-kind project that will not only build community in an innovative way but also fully support families on their journey to independence.”
The 95,000-square-foot Sierra Place office building, the former Dome Petroleum headquarters, has sat vacant for several years. The conversion project will create 160 jobs for the private sector and vibrancy and economic stimulation in Calgary’s struggling downtown core. When the building is re-opened in the fall of 2022, it will feature a variety of one, two, and three-bedroom units for approximately 180 Calgarians.
The $28.5 million overhaul is being supported by different levels of government, including $5.5 million from the City of Calgary. More information will be unveiled over the summer about fundraising plans to complete the project.
Inn from the Cold (IFTC) is dedicated exclusively to families that are or may become homeless in the Calgary region. IFTC three main programs include homeless prevention and diversion, emergency shelter, and supportive housing.
HomeSpace is a charitable developer, rental housing owner and property manager. HomeSpace provides safe, appropriate and affordable housing for the most vulnerable Calgarians and owns a portfolio of more than 700 units in 24 communities across the city.