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Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program

Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program

To support Greater Downtown building owners convert vacant office space to other uses, The City is administering the Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program.

This supports Greater Downtown’s economic recovery by supporting the elimination of unused space downtown and the development of vibrant downtown neighbourhoods, while supporting property values.

The overall goals of the Downtown Calgary Incentive Program are to increase overall economic activity in the Greater Downtown Plan Area by removing office space from the Greater Downtown Plan Area, increasing downtown residential dwelling units to improve vibrancy, and reducing the downtown office vacancy rate to support property values and the non-residential property tax assessment base.

Who can apply


Property owners, and their designated agent, within the Greater Downtown Plan area who are interested in converting office space to residential space are eligible to apply for this program. A priority will be placed on properties within the Downtown Core.

Conversion of office space to other uses and office demolition will be considered in a future phase of the program (January-July 2022).

Applicants must meet the program qualifications outlined below.

Qualifications


The following criteria must be met to be considered for the Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program:

  • Elimination/removal of office space
  • Conversion of office space to residential space
  • The property is located within the Greater Downtown Plan area, with priority placed on property within the Downtown Core (see map)
  • The applicant is the property owner or their designated agent, or the applicant provides authorization from the property owner that is satisfactory to The City
  • Evidence of project financing
  • Track record of the applicant
    • experience of projects of similar scope and size
    • demonstration of local project management, supervision and execution resources
    • applicant details including age and type of entity/corporation, and proof of good standing with respect to annual filings, corporate standing and financial capacity

Grant details


The program is offering a grant for office to residential conversions of $75 per square foot, based on the original gross building area of existing office space that will be converted.

The grant will be up to a maximum of $10 million per property unless City Council approves a greater amount for a particular application.

How to apply


The following information must be included in an application:

  • Overview of the proposed project
    • Ownership of the subject property
    • Intent of project – conversion of XX square feet of office to XX square feet of future use
    • Estimated total conversion costs
    • Estimated timeline to completion, with key project milestones highlighted
  • Description and background of the existing asset
    • Current use and vacancy status
  • Overview of the physical location of the proposed project
    • Project address
    • Location
    • Surrounding contest and neighbouring properties, if relevant
  • Project proposal
    • What is being proposed (i.e. type of product, unit types, residential amenities, etc.)
    • Project scoring considerations, if applicable
    • Who will be involved in the conversion project (applicant's team and list of consultants such as architects, designers, engineers, or agents)
    • How, and from whom, financing and/or capital is to be sourced
  • Project readiness
    • Status of financing/funding
    • Existing vacancy and/or remaining lease terms
    • Any schematics, drawings, renderings available or relevant permits (optional)

Submit an application with all aforementioned information by emailing both thom.mahler@calgary.ca and sheryl.mcmullen@calgary.ca. If attachments to your email are larger than 18MB, please compress your files or share using a secure file sharing service.

Please read Terms of Reference and Program Guide for detailed program information.

The City will review all applications based on the criteria set out in the program Terms of Reference within four weeks of the application period closing. Applications will then be brought forward to The City’s Incentives Approval Committee for an approval decision within two weeks.

Both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be informed by The City once the Incentive Approval Committee has decided to approve or refuse an application.

Application deadlines

Applications will be accepted from August 16 to September 15, 2021.

Submit an application with all aforementioned information by emailing both thom.mahler@calgary.ca and sheryl.mcmullen@calgary.ca. If attachments to your email are larger than 18MB, please compress your files or share using a secure file sharing service.

Have questions?


See below for answers to common questions, or submit an inquiry to the program team at downtownincentiveprogram@calgary.ca

Why did this program start?

Downtown office vacancy is at approximately 12 million square feet which translates into approximately 32.9% (CBRE, Q2 2021). As downtown office vacancy rates continue to rise, the impacts are far-reaching. The status quo scenario is the biggest risk to downtown vibrancy, Calgary’s economic competitiveness, and fiscal sustainability.

Downtown office property values have declined by $16 billion since 2015, or 60 percent, resulting in the tax shift situation that affects City finances and residential, commercial, and industrial property taxes throughout the city. Downtown is projected to gain 1 million square feet of unused office space in 2021. This will exert further downward pressure on downtown property values and shift further property tax burdens on both residential and commercial property tax payers.

Approximately six million square feet of office space needs to be removed from the market through leasing, conversion, adaptive reuse, and/or demolition to help address downtown office vacancy and stabilize downtown office property values over the next decade.

To begin to address this, City Council approved $45 million in funding for the Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program, which will provide property owners with grants to convert downtown office space to other uses.

What type of funding is available?

$45 million in funding has been approved by City Council for the Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program, with a maximum of $10 million being made available per property, unless Council approves a greater amount.

Who can apply for this funding?

Property owners within the Greater Downtown Plan area who are interested in converting office space to residential space are eligible to apply for this program. A priority will be placed on properties within the Downtown Core.

Conversion of office space to other uses and office demolition will be considered in a future phase of the program (January-July 2022). 

What area of downtown Calgary is eligible for funding?

Properties within the Greater Downtown Plan area are eligible for funding. This area includes the Downtown Core, Downtown West, Eau Claire, Chinatown, East Village, the Beltline, and Victoria Park. A priority will be placed on properties within the Downtown Core. 

What types of conversions are eligible for funding?

The first phase of the program will run from August to December 2021 and will focus on office to residential conversion. Conversion of office space to other uses and office demolition will be considered in a future phase of the program (January-July 2022). 

What funding amounts are available?

The program is offering a grant for office to residential conversions of $75 per square foot, based on the original gross building area of existing office space that will be converted. The grant will be up to a maximum of $10 million per property unless City Council approves a greater amount for a particular application.

How do I apply for funding?

To apply for funding, please email downtownincentiveprogram@calgary.ca with the information outlined in the “How to apply” section of this page.

How long will it take to know whether I have been approved?

Applications will be reviewed within four weeks of the application period closing on September 15, 2021. Applications will then be brought forward to The City’s Incentives Approval Committee for an approval decision within two weeks.

When can I expect to receive the grant?

The grant will be payable upon fulfilment of the terms of a funding agreement between The City and the applicant, completion of construction, and receipt of an occupancy permit.

If I am not successful in applying for the program, can I appeal the decision?

All application decisions are made at the sole and exclusive discretion of the Incentives Approval Committee. This decision is considered final.


This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically. ​

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