City buys back land after former Ernest Manning High School site sits empty

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City of Calgary buys back original Ernest Manning High School site after lot sits empty
WATCH: The original Ernest Manning High School along 17 Avenue S.W. was demolished in 2011 and has been sitting empty ever since. As Tracy Nagai reports, the city now says it repurchased the land from the developer and housing will be top of mind when developing the site. – Apr 17, 2024

The lot where Calgary’s original Ernest Manning High School was built in 1963 has been bought back by the city.

City officials revealed the land that has been sitting empty along 17th Avenue Southwest since 2011 was repurchased earlier this year.

The City of Calgary’s real estate and development team said in a statement that the deal closed in late January after the building commitment was not fulfilled within the expected timeframe.

Matco Development Corp. bought the land from the city in 2016 with the intent of building a mixed-use development which included office, retail and residential.

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“It’s just time. I think when you look at the landscape that we’ve seen on a local level and an international level, building a site that large especially during COVID means there was significant delays, cost inflations, so the ability for the intentional design was delayed,” Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott said.

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The lot is located minutes from downtown along the West LRT line.

“Current Calgary market conditions suggest that the future development of the lands will most likely become primarily residential, with a small percentage of complementary retail and restaurant space,” said Eileen Stan, vice-president of development with Matco Development.

Walcott echoes that housing will be front and centre when it comes to the future development of the site.

“The vision for the site hasn’t changed, it’s more so the players,” Walcott said. “Now that we’re moving to the housing strategy and we’re looking really differently on how we’re using public spaces around transit, all of a sudden having that land back in our fold is one of the best opportunities.”

Matco added the land was sold to the city for less than the development company paid for it.

“Matco intends to invest the proceeds of this transaction in its other extensive investments and business interests,” Stan said.

There’s no word on when the lot will be developed, but officials say the work to strategize a path forward will take place this year.

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