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Although it’s always great to hear of out-of-province companies showing their confidence in this city with real estate ventures, we too often forget to applaud the local firms who continue to invest here.

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At the corner of 8th Streets and 11th Avenue SW, Cana Construction crews are busy renovating the two ATCO Towers. It’s a significant investment by the huge Calgary-founded company with diversified products and services across many industries, with global growth in energy, water, transportation, residential real estate and agriculture.

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The two-tower complex — 909 and 919 — built in the 1980s housed ATCO’s head office until it was relocated to its stunning new offices in ATCO Park off Crowchild Trail S.

The Blue Flame Kitchen Cafe and The Commons also relocated to ATCO Park; its former space is the current kitchen and offices of Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids.

Christie Simpson, vice-president of ATCO land and development, said the buildings needed to be brought up to today’s standards for some of the company’s departments that remain in the 909 tower, and to attract new tenants.

She says ATCO determined that converting to residential did not tick the right boxes, and elected for a complete refresh into essentially a brand-new complex — and a belief that the west end location is a big plus — with a big investment in quality office space .

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GGA-Architecture was responsible for the design of the exterior cladding which includes bold new signage over the vibrant streetscape, and the lobby and podium areas.

All elevators have been modernized, and those in the 919 tower have new cabs with no-touch buttons.

Chris Law, senior vice-president at Colliers International who is responsible for leasing the office space, says the project is already receiving interest as space availability.

He says replacing the windows with triple-pane glass has already proven to be a benefit to the interior ambience. Tenants will have use of the new hub conference facility in the atrium that connects the two towers, where there is a kitchenette, cafe and lounge.

Shearer Licensed Interior Design was principal designer for the hub and two full-floor show suites.

Amenities include a modern gym that has been upgraded, plus new washrooms and gathering areas. Tenants in both towers will have use of a variety of reconditioned external patio spaces.

A generous parking ratio — both underground and surface stalls — is another plus. Commuters have easy and quick access to east and west, plus the 8th The street corridor has also become a safe and pleasant pedestrian walkway.

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And the complex is only a couple of blocks to downtown and the LRT, while being close to Safeway and a variety of restaurants.

Simpson believes ATCO’s investment in this project will be a significant winner in the company’s large real estate portfolio.

Pre-planning is underway for new development within its ATCO Park lands, plus several other parcels it owns throughout Calgary, including residential real estate. They herald a new and fresh focus on real estate development both here and in Edmonton, where Simpson is currently planning the development of a downtown city block that ATCO holds.

Notes:

Blackline Safety has expanded its manufacturing capacity at its Calgary headquarters in Ramsay to meet growing customer demand. By moving the company’s development facilities to the second floor and repurposing space that was freed up as a result of more employees choosing a hybrid work model, manufacturing now spans more than 11,850 square feet — a 49 per cent increase. Over the past year, global demand for Blackline’s real-time connected safety technology grew an average of 30 per cent, while product rental rose 214 per cent and the company’s cartridge line saw 165 per cent growth. The Calgary-based technology leader saw its customer base grow to 1,800, with 150,000 workers protected by Blackline’s safety wearables across North America, Europe, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at [email protected]

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