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Aspen Properties converts office tower to appeal to the new worker

Feb 27, 2018

Mario Toneguzzi, Postmedia Content Works

Scott Hutcheson, left, Aspen Properties executive chair of the board, with company president and chief executive officer Greg Guatto. Wil Andruschak, Postmedia Content Works

Aspen Properties has taken a bold, innovative step to stand out in a city facing a high downtown office  vacancy rate.

The company is in the  final phase of transforming a traditional office tower into what may be the future in Calgary. The former Encana Place tower, across the street from the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, is now known as The Edison following an ambitious redevelopment that began in 2016.

“We’re calling it The Edison because we think that image is one of a creative, innovative, future-thinking kind of environment.

“It’s not specifically named after Thomas Edison per se, but it creates the Edison kind of invention thinking and the light bulb on.

“This is where we are in the (economic) cycle and what this building really projects is innovation and bright new thinking,” says Scott Hutcheson, executive chair of the board for the Calgary-based real estate company.

The Edison includes creative features such as an outdoor dog park with walking, sitting and shampooing services for people’s canine friends.

The tenant lobby has foosball, a pool table, an eating area and a beer keg that will be on tap certain hours. There’s also a 7,000-square-foot fitness facility with a golf simulator. A condensed basketball court is located on the mechanical level on the top of the building and golf putting surfaces will be on the rooftop.

Tenants will also have access to in-house bicycles to journey around the downtown.

The main lobby features a massive screen, which can be split into multiple screens. Recently, the Winter Olympics were front and centre on the screen.

Greg Guatto, Aspen’s president and chief  executive officer, says the 450,000-square-foot,  30-storey tower that was built in 1981 is about  50 per cent leased.

“We have a couple of floors of co-working space, which really energized the building,” he says. “In the former headquarter space — the executive floor for Encana — every one of those very large suites (hosts) multiple small companies that are really growing quickly in the building. They bring their dogs to work. They’re in jeans. It’s really been a fun thing to watch and it’s great to walk around that floor and see how different it used to be to what it is today.

“There’s a waiting list for that floor and we just opened up another floor of this co-working space.”

Hutcheson says the building provides a different kind of option.

“There will be tenants that want a traditional set of floors in a AA standard highrise. And there will be buildings that are positioned for a different kind of corporate image,” he says.

“In the case of The Edison, it’s more targeted towards a more creative corporate  image.”