Edmonton’s Manchester Square sees uptick after rocky start

An outside view of Anna Liska's Manchester Square cafe, Rhubarb Café and Cocktails, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. Global News

Edmonton’s Manchester Square is offering local business owners a creatively fresh space to operate.

Anna Liska just opened her third business — Rhubarb Café and Cocktails —in the square. Two years ago, she moved in her event business, “Always Occasions.”

“I’ve been here with some of the original businesses from the very beginning and then we chose to continue to expand because honestly, we see the excitement and the growth that the square is going to offer,” Liska said.

She said she instantly fell in love with the building, which was built using historical European cities as design inspiration.

“The feeling of the square and everything that the family orientation that we have down here and support from other tenants was a game changer. (It) made me feel like it was possible and it was going to last and we’re going to make it,” she said.

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While the building and its growing business community is thriving, Manchester Square didn’t have the easiest start. Construction on the building started in 2018, and developers ran into road bumps by 2020.

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Giordano Morgulis, vice president of 76 Group, said they unveiled the building at the worst possible time — March 2020, right when the world was flipped upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click to play video: 'Real estate market changing in downtown Edmonton'
Real estate market changing in downtown Edmonton

“It’s been hit and miss just in terms of local businesses being ready to start up again after the two years we had,” he said.

Things are looking up, however, as 13 of the 19 units are now occupied and more are expected to move in over the next couple months.

“It’s definitely a different building than it was a year ago and even a year ago was different than it was two years ago. The project is definitely a passion project to make a statement on the city to state we can do fun and unique stuff that doesn’t really fit into the mold of Edmonton and we can do something out of the box,” he added.”

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As for Liska, she is looking forward to the continuing growth and arrival of new tenants.

“It’s really nice to see more businesses really popping up and the more that open, the more people come down here, the more exciting it is to be in the square, the more there is to do when you come down here.”

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