Originally unveiled in 2009, the East Village (EV) redevelopment project’s master plan includes more than 400,000 sq. ft. of retail opportunity that Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) has been creating a strategy for. Based on extensive market research and the buoyancy of Calgary’s retail environment, CMLC has been pursuing a two-pronged retail strategy that would combine ‘Urban Format’ destination-styled retail with more intimate, service-oriented ‘Village Format’ retail.
“CMLC is thrilled to announce two major milestones in our efforts to bring exactly the right retail amenities into the East Village mix. In April, RioCan concluded a transaction on a parcel of land in East Village referred to as the Gateway Block, for a major urban retail centre,” says CMLC President and CEO Michael Brown. “And now in July, after soliciting expressions of interest, conducting interviews with dozens of would-be tenants and stewarding lease negotiations, CMLC has selected a trio of tenants to activate East Village’s most prized historical landmark, the Simmons Building.”
To fulfil the Urban Format aspect of its retail strategy, CMLC encouraged discussions, negotiations and forward movement on the sale of the Gateway Block to RioCan. The block, formerly owned by the Calgary Police Association, is bounded by 5th and 6th Avenue and 3rd and 4th Street SE, the 2.75-acre site is slated for 300,000 sq. ft. of retail space. While RioCan has yet to name specific tenants, lease negotiations with several prospective retailers and tenants are underway.
CMLC also unveiled its selection of tenants for a Village Format retail hub along the riverfront in the Simmons Building: food and beverage icons Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and the chefs who created CHARCUT Roast House, Connie DeSousa and John Jackson. All were founded in Calgary.
Originally known as the Simmons Factory Warehouse, the Simmons Building was built in 1912. During World War II, its sole purpose was to provide bedding for the military. In 2008, CMLC began refurbishing the Simmons Building; and in May 2011 the organization issued a national call for Expressions of Interest from groups interested in leasing the historic space.
In concert with architectural firm McKinley Burkart and Stuart Olson Dominion Construction, CMLC will continue to make base building improvements to the Simmons space over the next year. After CMLC fulfils its obligations, the new tenant group will undertake their fit and finish work with McKinley Burkart’s guidance. The Simmons Building’s new retail offerings are expected to open to the public in the spring of 2015 – the same time residents will be moving into the 396 new condos currently under construction by Embassy Bosa and FRAM+Slokker.