Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program

Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program

City Council has committed to a $100 million investment in the Downtown Calgary Development Incentive Program that is focused on supporting Downtown building owners in the conversion of vacant office space to residential uses.

The conversion program supports Greater Downtown’s economic recovery by encouraging the elimination of excess vacant office space downtown through conversion into residential uses and the development of vibrant downtown neighbourhoods.

Approved projects

The City has finalized the approval of the first three projects in the conversion program. Two additional projects in the first round of applicants are in the final stages of approval, and it is anticipated further announcements will be made in the coming weeks. The City is currently working with waitlisted applicants from the first round that are in consideration for the remaining funds and as application approvals are finalized, further announcements are anticipated throughout the summer.

Palliser One
125 9 Avenue S.E.

Developer: Aspen Properties
Municipal investment: ~$15,000,000
Scope of conversion: ~200,000 sq. ft.
Total units created: 176

Building amenities:

  • Ground-level outdoor park and skating rink
  • Fitness facility
  • Resident amenity lounge, located midway through the building, will provide residents with a modern common floor featuring games areas, a workspace, lounge seating, a kitchen/bar area, and an outdoor BBQ space
  • Rooftop patio  

205 9 Avenue S.E.

Developer: Cidex Group of Companies
Municipal investment: $8,200,000
Scope of conversion: ~110,000 sq. ft.
Total units created: 113

Building amenities:

  •  The main floor will include an artists studio and amenities for residents and the surrounding community

909 5 Avenue S.W.

Developer: Peoplefirst Developments
Municipal investment: $7,800,000
Scope of conversion: ~104,000 sq. ft.
Total units created: 112

Building amenities:

  • The main floor will include retail and amenities for residents and the surrounding community
  • The second floor will be built out into a coworking space for small businesses – supporting, entrepreneurs, and residents in the area.

Program phase 1 eligibility


Property owners, or their designated agent, with property located within the Greater Downtown Plan area who were interested in converting office space to residential space were eligible to apply for this program. A priority was placed on properties located within the Downtown Core.

The initial application period was open from August 15, 2021 to September 15, 2021. 

Applicants had to meet the program qualifications outlined below.

Criteria


The following criteria had to 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 offered 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 was up to a maximum of $10 million per property unless City Council approves a greater amount for a particular application.

Additional information required


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)

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

Program phase 2


The City is now working on Phase 2 of the program to be brought forward for Council approval and funding later this year. It is anticipated that Phase 2 will include residential and additional adaptive uses.

As different uses are being contemplated, the grant amount and/or method of calculation may be different than program phase 1.

Possible uses being considered include hotel, education, cultural, and laboratory.

Have questions?


See below for answers to common questions, or submit an inquiry to the program team at downtownstrategy@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 $100 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.

Is funding for phase 1 of the program still available?

$100 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.

All $100 million has been conditional allocated towards 11 office-to residential conversion projects.

When does phase 2 of the program begin?

The City is now working on a second phase of the program to be launched later this year that will include adaptive uses other than residential. 

Who is eligible for phase 2 of the program?

Possible uses being considered include residential, hotel, education, cultural, laboratory and agricultural.

How much funding is available for phase 2 of the program?

Currently, phase 2 is not funded. The terms of reference and funding amount for this phase will be announced later this year.

Who can apply for this funding?

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

The City is now working on a second phase of the program to be launched later this year that will include adaptive uses other than residential. 

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 focused on office to residential conversion. The City is now working on a second phase of the program to be launched later this year that will include adaptive uses other than residential. Possible uses being considered include residential, hotel, education, cultural, laboratory and agricultural.

What funding amounts are available?

The program offered 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 in phase 1. The grant was up to a maximum of $10 million per property unless City Council approved a greater amount for a particular application.

The grant amount for phase 2 may be different than phase 1 and will depend on more detailed cost analysis.

How do I apply for funding?

Program Phase 1 is complete. Check back later in 2022 for Phase 2 of the program.


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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