March 8, 2018 8:27 pm
Updated: March 8, 2018 9:18 pm

Raymond Block takes shape on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue

WATCH ABOVE: The Raymond Block is quickly taking shape on a site that for years, had nothing going for it. Vinesh Pratap took a tour.


A new building is quickly taking shape on Edmonton’s historic Whyte Avenue. And the structure is now officially topped off.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Kendal Harazny, a principal with Wexford Developments, the company behind the $50-million dollar project.

“We think it fits in very well.”

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For years, the land the building is now on — at the corner of Whyte and 105 Street — sat empty. It was a former gas station site that was contaminated.

READ MORE: Work set to begin on former gas station on Whyte Avenue

After an extensive clean-up, the site was sold in 2014; construction on Raymond Block started last year.

“We think our architects at dialogue did a wonderful job respecting this history of Whyte Ave,” Harazny told Global News on the rooftop of the new building.

Over the next several months, materials such as brick, granite and metal will start to wrap around the exterior. The idea is to blend the new with the old on Whyte.

But even before the building went up, there were concerns about the six-storey height; specifically the impact of less sunlight.

“I don’t know how they got planning permission for putting something this high in this area,” passerby Roddy Campbell said.

“I mean, people shop here so it’s fleeting,” Campbell said. “It’s not like they’re living here in the shadows, but still.”

Wexford Developments held 22 community meetings during the rezoning process. With 95 apartments, it’s a building that will be active 24 hours a day.

READ MORE: Eyesore no longer: development plans released on empty Whyte Avenue lot

“We’re going to have a very beautiful patio here.”

Several retail bays are now leased and Edmonton mainstay Remedy Cafe will be filling a prime corner unit.

Owner Sohail “Zee” Zaidi believes the mixed-use building, which will include office space and apartments, will make the area more attractive for business.

“More people going to move in… and that’s what Whyte Avenue needed.”

Like many Edmontonians, the developer, as a University student, vividly remembers walking by the empty, contaminated lot.

“It’s a sight that needed to be built, because it was a sore spot for Whyte Avenue,” Harazny said.

The Raymond Block should be complete by this September.

The building is named after the original Raymond Hotel, which was on the site in the early 1900s.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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