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Calgary eyeing support for Barron Building redevelopment

Calgary's Barron Building, one of the city's first office high rises pictured on Sep. 7, 2021, could get a financial boost for its redevelopment to residences after a city committee endorsed the plan. Adam Toy / Global News

A historic office building in downtown Calgary could soon be getting funding to help with a stalled redevelopment.

Earlier in the year, the city launched a downtown revitalization plan. But because the Barron Building, located at 610 8 Ave S.W., was already being redeveloped, it didn’t qualify for funds within the redevelopment plan.

“If there’s one determining factor about the Barron Building is that it did get caught, and in fact, it’s in mid-construction and was not eligible for funding under the downtown development incentive program,” Thom Mahler, program lead of the city’s downtown strategy, told the priorities and finance committee.

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City officials are recommending a $7.5 million grant to help the conversion to residential.

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But one of the first office towers built following the discovery of the Leduc No. 1 oil well will have to get a heritage designation to access the grant.

Mahler characterized the grant for the Art Moderne-style building as a “buying some momentum.”

“It’s a way of getting some very short-term construction activity underway to create a sense of momentum on implementing the downtown strategy.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the office tower built in the early 50s holds a special place in Jewish history and oil and gas history in Calgary.

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A redeveloped Barron Building would increase land values and the tax base of the area, he said.

“We’ve had a number of stops and starts on that building, and I’m hoping that this will actually allow it to achieve some potential for a real future and build up the property values of that whole area,” Nenshi said.

The city committee endorsed the plan on Tuesday. It is set for a full vote by council on Sep. 13.

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