Developer seeks approval to demolish former BMO building in downtown Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Downtown Edmonton street corner could change because of empty building'
Downtown Edmonton street corner could change because of empty building
WATCH ABOVE: The future of a prominent downtown Edmonton street corner is under the spotlight with a former bank now sitting empty and the city reviewing an application for its demolition. Vinesh Pratap reports – Oct 30, 2017

About 35 years after the historic Tegler Building was demolished in downtown Edmonton, a developer wants to do the same to the building that replaced it in order to build a 40- to 45-storey high-rise tower.

Earlier this fall, BMO (Bank of Montreal) moved from its location at 102 Avenue and 101 Street to the Enbridge Building next door. According to the building’s new owners, Regency Developments, it would be difficult to find a new tenant for the current building, partly because of its lack of dedicated underground parking and also because of how big it is.

“The sheer size of it and scale of it, it’s a pretty specific tenant that would have been able to take this over, ” Regency Developments’ Raj Dhunna said on Monday. “When we first purchased it, it wasn’t a clear vision of what we wanted to do. We just knew it was a prime corner so I would say not to worry about it being an empty lot too long.”

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“I think there’s great opportunity,” said Ian O’Donnell with the Downtown Business Association. “I’m certainly concerned that it’s empty at the moment.”

Last week, Regency Developments submitted an application to the City of Edmonton to have the building demolished. The city is reviewing the application and the developer said because of the looming LRT construction work set to take place in the area, it hopes to have the building demolished soon.

“Our timeline is basically between now and spring,” Dhunna said. “I think it would be very difficult for the demo of this building to happen in conjunction with the road closures and everything.”

Regency Developments, which is behind a number of large-scale project in Alberta’s capital, including the Pearl Tower, says it hopes to build a mixed-use tower that would include condos and possibly a hotel and office space.

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“They’ve been one of the larger players in central Edmonton and certainly are committed to development so it’s in good hands,” O’Donnell said. “We’d like to see something of high quality certainly.”

Before the current building was erected, the Tegler Building was demolished in 1982, following a four-year debate. At seven storeys, the Tegler Building was Edmonton’s tallest building when it was constructed in 1911. It featured a unique Edwardian architectural design, something Dhunna said he hopes a future building might be able to give a nod to in its design.

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Watch below: The new owner of the Bank of Montreal building on Rice Howard Way in downtown Edmonton has applied for a demolition permit. The location is significant not because of the bank building, but because of what was there before – the Tegler Building, which came down in 1982. Watch the 1982 demolition in this archived Global News video.

Click to play video: 'From the archives: Tegler Building in downtown Edmonton demolished in 1982'
From the archives: Tegler Building in downtown Edmonton demolished in 1982

“It’s important to us to know that when this comes down something great needs to go up here,” he said.

-With files from Vinesh Pratap

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