July 19, 2019 7:41 pm
Updated: July 22, 2019 4:43 pm

Calgary landlord tackles rising commercial vacancy rates with innovative ideas

WATCH: In the midst of sky-high office vacancy rates, Calgary’s Bow Valley Square has taken on a multi-year and multi-million dollar re-development. Global’s Tomasia DaSilva explains how it’s paying off.


At a time when many Calgary downtown office buildings are struggling to find tenants, one property is celebrating a multi-year and multi-million dollar re-development.

Oxford Properties has invested about $40 million into Bow Valley Square in the heart of Calgary’s downtown.

“We’re believers in Calgary and we’ll continue to invest here,” David Routledge said.

The VP of Real Estate Management for Western Canada said it hasn’t always been easy, and Calgary has been a very challenging market.

Oxford Properties shows Global News around its re-developed site

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READ MORE: Calgary’s downtown office market seeing positive trend: Avison Young


But, with a little out-of-the-box thinking, leases are up.

“Bow Valley Square is about 85 per cent leased,” Routledge added. “Year-to-date, we’ve done about 85,000 feet of new leasing with new companies.”

One of the ways Oxford has been enticing tenants has been with new amenities. Those include a new gym, a rooftop patio, a park and a one-of-a-kind tenant hub.

The hub allows all those working in the building to talk and do business in a more relaxed environment.

Routledge said workers are looking for more than a traditional office space.

“It’s just the way many people work,” he added. “Especially with technology and a younger workforce.”

One of the biggest innovations at Bow Valley Square — OxWorx — is a very successful co-working space.

Tenants can lease a single desk or a single office, and those leases can be temporary.

“We started with one floor and we built it out. It became fully leased and we decided if that could work, we’d do it again. Over two floors we’re now 90 per cent leased.”

WATCH: Calgary’s downtown vacancy rate predicted to stay in 20% range into next decade

Currency exchange company Calforex moved in to one of those spaces a few months ago.

Officials said they had plenty of other buildings to choose from in downtown Calgary.

“They’re fighting in terms of price and what they’re offering offering to tenants,” Calforex VP of operations Tracy McCaig said.

McCaig said what sold them on Bow Valley Square was the short-term lease option.

“A lot of flexibility,” McCaig added. “With the economic times right now, you’re growing, you’re downsizing. So this offers you the option. You’re not committing to a long-term solution.”

Bow Valley Square will officially celebrate its re-development later this month.

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