CBBarnett

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It will go when they find another anchor tenant to occupy the office component. Could be 5-10 years before that happens.
This comment comes as an uninformed outsider, but I find the long-term, optimistic view of some of our downtown office developers pretty unreal. Some seem to have patience to just sit on sites for decades and decades rather than change up the plans to get something going in their lifetime.

I would have thought after nearly a decade of all evidence pointing the other way - 8 years of 20%+ vacancy, 35% current vacancy, almost all projections pointing to a hybrid/less office space needed future indefinitely - there would be an eventual turning point where we'd start to see major rethinks to their development approach and not base a project on the office component at all (e.g. change up the res/commercial mix, smaller or more targeted projects etc.)

That said, I get the argument on tenant needs shifting as all our office stock gets older and different industries expect different amenities, floor-plates etc. As a result, overall vacancy only tells part of the story and niches can emerge that require a new build regardless on if there is vacancy elsewhere. But I would guess that is a pretty small stream of potential projects compared to spending a fraction of the money to refurbish a cheaper, existing building to be more contemporary.

Perhaps there's not much of a plan to change it up to - from all the other projects we see the condo and apartment market is steady enough, but probably still quite far from the booming, high-priced environment that would actually motivate a complete change to the plans of a dedicated office developer.

Again - I really don't know anything and I am sure I am painting too broad of a brush as every site and developer is in a different economic position. Just providing some Friday musing about why a company would be happy to sit on under-utilized and/or vacant parcel for decades.
 

YYCguy

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I rarely venture into the CBD, so I’m wondering how well it’s returning to pre pandemic life. Are lots of people coming back to work downtown? Are the office buildings coming back to life, along with the retail and eateries? Is there demand for additional office/retail/residential space? Only asking because I don’t go downtown very much anymore.
 

zagox

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This comment comes as an uninformed outsider, but I find the long-term, optimistic view of some of our downtown office developers pretty unreal. Some seem to have patience to just sit on sites for decades and decades rather than change up the plans to get something going in their lifetime.

I would have thought after nearly a decade of all evidence pointing the other way - 8 years of 20%+ vacancy, 35% current vacancy, almost all projections pointing to a hybrid/less office space needed future indefinitely - there would be an eventual turning point where we'd start to see major rethinks to their development approach and not base a project on the office component at all (e.g. change up the res/commercial mix, smaller or more targeted projects etc.)

That said, I get the argument on tenant needs shifting as all our office stock gets older and different industries expect different amenities, floor-plates etc. As a result, overall vacancy only tells part of the story and niches can emerge that require a new build regardless on if there is vacancy elsewhere. But I would guess that is a pretty small stream of potential projects compared to spending a fraction of the money to refurbish a cheaper, existing building to be more contemporary.

Perhaps there's not much of a plan to change it up to - from all the other projects we see the condo and apartment market is steady enough, but probably still quite far from the booming, high-priced environment that would actually motivate a complete change to the plans of a dedicated office developer.

Again - I really don't know anything and I am sure I am painting too broad of a brush as every site and developer is in a different economic position. Just providing some Friday musing about why a company would be happy to sit on under-utilized and/or vacant parcel for decades.

I am also an uniformed outsider, but my guess is this project was mostly down to the vanity of former Suncor CEO Mark Little who didn't want to work in a mid-80's office tower anymore. Once he got fired the lights went out on this idea.
 

CBBarnett

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I rarely venture into the CBD, so I’m wondering how well it’s returning to pre pandemic life. Are lots of people coming back to work downtown? Are the office buildings coming back to life, along with the retail and eateries? Is there demand for additional office/retail/residential space? Only asking because I don’t go downtown very much anymore.
In my experience, it's definitely quieter particularly on Mondays and Fridays and there's sections of the core that seem more vacant than they used to be. I think there's a pattern setting in of hybrid work in many downtown companies where 3 days of the week are in the office, 2 days remote. That must have driven some measurable drop in downtown activity. How noticeable this drop is probably depends on the context - there's been sections of the core that have long felt "vacant" of people and activity in the boom-est of boom times, apart from 3 hours a day for the rush-hours.

My visits to Stephen Ave seemed steady to me and comparable to previous pre-pandemic years, but I would be curious on some harder data as I am sure there is nuance with restaurants sales, hotel stays for tourists etc. Trains and buses seem very busy too.

More clearly to me, the areas immediately surrounding the commercial core this past summer and extended summer-like weather into the fall really set a new level of vibrancy. Beltline felt more bustling than ever on most days and nights, river pathways and East Village as packed as usual. Statcan 2021 census data and the various projects we talk about on this forum back this up, as the residential growth in the wider area continues steadily.
 

Surrealplaces

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It will go when they find another anchor tenant to occupy the office component. Could be 5-10 years before that happens.
It's possible it may never happen given some factors of today's world.
- with large scale oil projects on a slow downward trend, Calgary may not have a large anchor tenant wanting new office space for another 10-20 years, maybe never.
- with work from home now a popular thing, the downtown office workforce may never recover to what it once was, and instead will be a large number of diverse tenants with smaller spaces.
- If the need ever came that someone did want new office space, there's the possibility of office space being developed somewhere else downtown by a different developer.
 

JonnyCanuck

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Are the office buildings coming back to life, along with the retail and eateries? Is there demand for additional office/retail/residential space? Only asking because I don’t go downtown very much anymore.
I have lived downtown for the last 12 years, dine in restaurants quite frequently and therefore do lots of walking in the core. I don't work downtown so I am not able to comment on Mon-Fri daytime activity although one has to expect that with 'work from home' and a 30% office vacancy, it is far from what it was. Here is what I have observed from evenings and weekends.
1. There are still dozens of 'for lease' signs on prime street front properties throughout the core including on Stephen Avenue. I can only imagine that it is worse with 2nd floor retail, kioks, food courts etc off the plus 15's.
2. Most restaurants and bars at the popular end of Stephen Ave (1st SE to 4st SW) were able to survive the COVID lockdowns & restrictions. However they are still not doing the business they were doing in years past. This is a combination of tourism (international travelers particularly from the U.S.), business travel and conferences/conventions being down.
3. There are still lots of apartments for lease in the Beltline and more new ones coming. There does not appear to be anything happening with the planned office conversions that are in prime locations ... Barron Building & the two at 9th Ave & 1st SE
 

Surrealplaces

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I rarely venture into the CBD, so I’m wondering how well it’s returning to pre pandemic life. Are lots of people coming back to work downtown? Are the office buildings coming back to life, along with the retail and eateries? Is there demand for additional office/retail/residential space? Only asking because I don’t go downtown very much anymore.
I'm downtown usually once a week, and I've noticed during daytime hours it has been getting busier. Definitely busier these days than it was in the spring. The first time I went into the office was in April, and I went down to the +15 and it was dead everywhere. No line-ups at coffee break time and hardly much for line-ups at lunch. These days line-ups are more common.
I usually go in Wednesday, but was in once on a Monday, and it was fairly quiet, even on a Monday it was still busier than back in April/May. Tuesday/Wednesday seem to be the busiest days.
It's got a ways to go, and TBH, not sure if it'll ever get back to the way it was, due to people working from home full time or hybrid.

I'm in Ottawa this week and I can tell you that its downtown has been hit hard by covid. It's much quieter than Calgary's downtown. Alot of business have closed, and the ones that are still running seem to close at 4:00pm. I hopped on the LRT and went a couple of stops, just to check it out. I was the only person in the entire station, and pretty much the only one on the train. This was at 7:30pm on a weeknight.

It might be a while before places recover from covid and the work from home scene.
 

UrbanWarrior

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I believe someone posted an article about the downtown “bounce back” in vibrancy among North American major cities, and Calgary was either #1 or #2 if I recall. We are very lucky. This was about a year ago though.

I would honestly expect for us, that we’re a good 110%+ above our pre-pandemic vibrancy now. Our downtown population has grown by probably ~5000 since spring 2020 (global shutdown), so that would make sense. By contrast, Ottawa’s hasn’t grown much, and last I checked, Edmonton’s inner city was declining in population despite ongoing development.
 

JonnyCanuck

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I believe someone posted an article about the downtown “bounce back” in vibrancy among North American major cities, and Calgary was either #1 or #2 if I recall. We are very lucky. This was about a year ago though.
If the definition of downtown includes the Beltline, then I would mostly agree with that assessment. However the downtown core (9th Ave north to the river) still has a feeling of emptiness to me. It is definitely not what it was pre-pandemic or 2012-14 oil boom. Take the 5 or 6 blocks of 8th Ave including the theatre district out of the mix, and we have one of the most spiritless, vapid downtowns in North America. IMO
 
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