Aspen Properties leads the changing office market

June 27, 2023
Leadership Team Calgary Real Estate & Development
2 ASPEN 1000 x 750

Scott Hutcheson, left, co-founder and executive chair of Aspen Properties, joins president and chief executive officer Greg Guatto, centre, and chief operating officer Rob Blackwell in the lobby of the Ampersand Building.
Photo credit: Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

Downtown office buildings have evolved in Calgary over the past 25 years, and so has one of the city’s leading office tower owners.
Aspen Properties is celebrating a quarter century of investing in and managing several sought-after towers in Calgary and Edmonton — covering roughly 4.25 million square feet of space valued at more than $1.2 billion.

“We started out with a thesis that underutilized, unloved office towers could get a makeover to attract tenants and, more importantly, capital from large institutional investors,” says Scott Hutcheson, co-founder and executive chair of Aspen.

The idea proved successful, leading to Aspen selling $1 billion in assets at the peak of the office market in 2008. Aspen’s job, though, was not done. It then moved onto what it saw as the next phase of growth, helping to re-imagine office culture when Calgary’s downtown struggled during the downturn.

“Office buildings were not just competing with the buildings across the street,” says Greg Guatto, Aspen’s president and chief executive officer.

The ability to work from home, or from anywhere, which accelerated during the pandemic, meant successful office spaces had to up the ante. Aspen’s re-imagining of existing buildings in the downtown core — such as The Ampersand — embodies this new generation of office.

Among the notable amenities at the three-tower complex include flex-office spaces, basketball courts in the lobby, a golf simulator, food trucks and the Lil E Coffee Café, which provides first jobs for young adults with developmental disabilities.

“It’s all about creating communities that people want to be part of,” Guatto says.

Aspen has also been at the forefront of another recent trend: office conversion to residential rental.

“One tower we own — Palliser One — was reaching the end of its life for office use,” explains Aspen chief operating officer Rob Blackwell. “So, we saw the opportunity to transform it into an appealing rental apartment building providing vibrancy downtown.”

It’s another feather in the cap for Aspen, a pioneer that will set the benchmark for successful office towers for decades to come, Hutcheson says.

“Our reputation today is better than it’s ever been because we are widely known for making the right move for downtown properties — be it the office of the future or residential.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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