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Bernadette Majdell, CEO of HomeSpace Society, has praise for a city council decision to approve a $5.5-million grant allowing a vacant downtown office tower to be transformed into affordable-housing rental units.

Sierra Place, on the corner of 7th Avenue and 6th Street S.W., is to be stripped down, spruced up and converted into 108 residential units.

The building was owned by Artis REIT but has been empty for two years. Chris Howard, vice-president of Capital Markets Group at Avison Young, which has enjoyed a long relationship with HomeSpace, brought the property to Majdell as a possibility for another downtown site.Majdell reached out to Inn From the Cold, which is in dire need of more accommodations for tenants, and having forged a partnership whereby a number of the units at Sierra Place will be allocated for its low-income families, HomeSpace was able to go ahead with its plan to develop the tower.
Gibbs Gage Architects, PCL Construction and M3 Development Management is the chosen team to make the conversion work. The design will see a completely new exterior envelope as it is well past its lifespan, says Gibbs Gage managing partner Vincent Dods, who is principal architect on the project. “We have to bring it up to current energy code guidelines, giving us the opportunity to change it with a cleaner, more vibrant and residential look.”Inside, all floors will be stripped of partitioning and finishing down to the structural core, to accommodate a mix of unit sizes to suit a variety of tenant needs.The lobby area is to be renovated and a number of amenity spaces will be included in the design.

At street level, many will remember a popular coffee shop on the corner of the building. It is one of three commercial bays to be leased by Howard, but plans may include reopening the coffee shop as an employment opportunity for tenants as well as a meeting place for them and neighbours in surrounding towers.

Dods says it’s a privilege to help HomeSpace in this exciting project, and the team is working hard to fast-track the design and construction to welcome tenants as soon as possible.

To help raise the amount necessary to complete the $28.5-million overhaul, HomeSpace is being supported by Calgary Foundation in its efforts to raise money and is embarking on a fundraising campaign.

It’s another exciting challenge for Majdell since taking over the CEO position at HomeSpace four years ago, after her earlier role with affordable housing at AgeCare.

She has led a busy team who earlier this year were proud to open a new building, Legacy on 5th, at 933 5th Avenue S.W.On the west edge of downtown at the corner of 5th Avenue and 9th Street, the $23.5-million tower designed by IBI Group and built by CANA Construction was made possible by generous philanthropic donors through the RESOLVE campaign, CMHC and the City of Calgary. Partnering with social service providers, it houses referrals primarily from Autism Calgary Association, Calgary Seniors Resource Society and New Age Services.HomeSpace has a huge impact in this city with 30 buildings throughout all quadrants containing 690 units. And within the next three years, the plan is to increase that number to 1,000 units serving some 1,500 residents.

Later this year, Majdell will offer 51 apartment units for single adults on 16th Avenue at 10th Street S.W., and in the summer of 2022 will open 45 units in an affordable-housing, family-oriented development in the community of Seton.


Last fall’s Community Shred Day, organized by the Rotary Club of Calgary Olympic, was so successful it is offering another opportunity to shred your confidential documents. On May 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., your documents can be shredded, baled, recycled and repurposed at the Austrian Canadian Club on 11th Street N.E., in partnership with Pulp Shred, for the cost of a donation to the club. All money raised will go to the cost of training two CNIB guide dogs.


Story by: Calgary Herald