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An upwards view of the Cube building.

Repurposing something old and underused to make it new and exciting again is a creative and unconventional response to Calgary’s slow economic recovery. It is also the inspiration behind Strategic Group’s latest completed project.

In less than a year, the Calgary-based real estate company transformed the aging Stephenson Building into Cube, a residential rental building in Calgary’s vibrant Beltline community.

“We know that office-to-residential repurposing will help reinvigorate our economy and add vitality to our downtown community.” said Riaz Mamdani, chief executive officer of Strategic Group.

More than half of the 65 new one- and two-bedroom residences are already spoken for with Calgarians moving into Cube even before the project was completed.

“What’s exciting about a project like this is that it acts as a virtuous cycle,” said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “Having more people live in our downtown—on this previously quiet corner—supports more great business, which in turn draws more people. It’s a vibrancy and economic multiplier.”

In recent years, the City of Calgary and Calgary Economic Development have taken steps to improve the downtown economy. This includes the creation of a City Centre Enterprise Area that was instrumental in expediting the Cube project.

“If we were going to apply for this type of development three or four years ago, the regulatory approval would have taken between 10 and 14 months. With the municipal initiative in place, we were able to have the project approved within 30 days. That time frame was critical to the viability of this project,” said Mamdani.

Accelerating urbanization and enhancing livability in the downtown core is a key initiative in Calgary’s economic strategy.

“Cube is a tangible example of the economic strategy – Calgary in the New Economy – in action.” said Leslie Shier, director of client excellence at Calgary Economic Development. “When we talk about ‘Place’ as one of the four foundational pillars of the economic strategy it is about creating a city – and a downtown in particular – where people want to live, work and play. With Cube, Riaz and his team are helping create a more vibrant and active city centre.”

Strategic Group’s other projects in Calgary include repurposing the historic Barron Building to become the first residential building connected to Calgary’s +15 system and building One—a 41-storey residential rental building located in Victoria Park. Both projects are expected to be completed in 2020.

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