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Edmonton’s Manulife Place to receive $30M facelift

Manulife Place in downtown Edmonton getting $30-million renovation
WATCH: A multi-million dollar facelift of downtown's Manulife Place will start soon. The details come just a few days after the building's main retail tenant, Holt Renfrew, closed shop and left Edmonton. Vinesh Pratap reports.

Major changes are coming to downtown Edmonton’s Manulife Place.

Manulife Investment Management announced plans Tuesday for a $30-million redevelopment of the high-rise office building. The 36-storey building is located at 101 Street and 101 Avenue in the downtown core.

Construction is slated to start in mid-2020, and will include a major modernization of the exterior façade. The retail storefronts will be moved to the outside of the building, extending the shopping experience outwards.

“It’s going to be a whole new rejuvenation of the centre. Rather than having the centre face inward, it will be brought out, create light, create visibility,” said Ted Wilcocks with Manulife Investment Management.

“We have been planning for several years, given all the dynamics that are happening in the downtown core and with the ICE District — it’s a rejuvenation of the core. We’ve been planning this for some time, I’d say over two years.”

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READ MORE: Edmonton City Centre mall, several downtown towers, sold

The retail shift is something Ian O’Donnell with the Downtown Business Association of Edmonton said will be a game-changer for the area, when coupled with the nearby Valley Line LRT.

“It’s really going to go from a challenging spot right now — with the construction and disruption — to one of the most urban streets in the downtown,” O’Donnell said.

“You can look to Denver for an example there, they completely changed a street that was not very effective and now it’s one of their top retail streets.”

The inside of the building will see improvements that include new porcelain flooring, LED lighting and communal spaces.

A new 45,000-square-foot rooftop terrace will also be built, creating a fully-landscaped park.

The announcement comes just days after the building’s main retail tenant, Holt Renfrew, shuttered its doors, leaving Edmonton altogether.

READ MORE: Holt Renfrew closing Edmonton store in 2020 to focus on bigger locations

Wilcocks said Manulife Investment Management is in talks with new potential tenants, but wouldn’t release further details Tuesday. He said they hope to bring in a mix of more retail, entertainment and food and beverage offerings to provide a better experience for shoppers and tenants.

“We’re always looking to the future,” he said. “We’ve been longstanding investors in Alberta, longstanding investors in the Edmonton marketplace. We see a bright future for the city.

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“It’s time to give people better offerings in the city downtown.”

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Wilcocks said construction is expected to take about 18 months.

Renderings of planned changes to Edmonton's Manulife Place.
Renderings of planned changes to Edmonton's Manulife Place. Courtesy, Manulife Investment Management
Renderings of planned changes to Edmonton's Manulife Place.
Renderings of planned changes to Edmonton's Manulife Place. Courtesy, Manulife Investment Management
Renderings of planned changes to Edmonton's Manulife Place.
Renderings of planned changes to Edmonton's Manulife Place. Courtesy, Manulife Investment Management