Calgary’s downtown office market offers plenty of space available for lease. But perhaps the most unique real estate on the market is the 80,758-square-foot fourth floor of Gulf Canada Square.
The space is 697 feet in length and covers two full city blocks in the downtown core. It may well also be the longest stretch of available office space ever on the market in the city.
“Firstly, an 80,000-square-foot floor plate is extremely rare in the entire country and it’s the largest for an office space. That’s the largest base building space that exists (for lease) in Calgary and the country,” said John Savard, owner of Bedrock Realty Advisors commercial real estate services firm in Calgary.
“Gulf Canada Square is the length of two city blocks . . . it’s so unique. You won’t ever see that.”
Gulf Canada Square, which is owned by GWL Realty Advisors, is located at 401 9th Avenue S.W. It is a 20-storey class-A mixed-use office tower of just over 1.1 million square feet. It opened in 1979.
The floor plate stacks up against the largest downtown office buildings in Canada. QuadReal is currently gutting and redeveloping The Post in Vancouver to accommodate 110,000-square-foot layouts for a major new Amazon office, and buildings such as Kingsett’s Atrium in Toronto boast floor plates up to 88,000 square feet.
Such spaces, however, are either leased or broken into smaller chunks for multiple tenants.
Gulf Canada Square is distinct
Chris Nasim, vice-president, asset management for the Prairie Region for GWLRA, agrees the property for lease is one of the most unique downtown office spaces Calgary has seen for quite some time.
“It’s the shape of the floor plate. It looks like almost a warehouse bay to the extent you were in it from length to length,” Nasim told RENX.
“You might get a similar, but not the same size, kind of feel if you’re out in a suburban building like a big suburban office or engineering building.
“But to have 80,000 square feet all on one floor in a downtown building certainly is unique and certainly no other downtown property comes close to offering that kind of floor plate and the geometry around it.
“It’s not a rectangular floor plate, either. So the depth versus the width is definitely very unique.”
Nasim said while nothing has been finalized, the property has attracted some potential tenants.
“We have had preliminary interest from a few different types of users,” he said.
The space most recently was occupied by a major oil and gas tenant, but Nasim said the fourth floor came back to GWLRA through a lease re-negotiation about a year ago.
It was originally built as Canadian Pacific Railway’s North American headquarters for the company’s operational centre.
“It had a major amount of power and mechanical infrastructure there because back in the day they operated the North American train network out of that fourth-floor area. So, it was pretty unique from that perspective,” explained Nasim.
Existing retail, office tenants
The building has a variety of retail shops and services and about 40,000 square feet of medical tenancies including medical offices, a laboratory, an x-ray office and pharmacies.
It has direct +15 pedestrian walkway connections to a city-owned parkade, Bankers Hall and The Core Shopping Centre. The building has achieved BOMA BEST Platinum certification and LEED EB:O&M certification.
“I think a tenant will find this interesting if they’re looking to be on one single floor and 80,000 square feet. You’ll get a great deal of efficiencies. If you’re on multiple square footage, it could be upwards of 10 or 20 per cent higher,” said Savard. “It creates an interesting opportunity from an efficiency perspective.
“And it’s unique. It’s a unique user that really has that desire to be on one floor. We don’t have many of those in Calgary today.”
Nasim said Gulf Canada Square has always been a distinctive building in Calgary’s downtown.
“We think having an 80,000-square-foot floor plate in this market is a unique opportunity versus being a hindrance or a challenge,” Nasim said.
“We’re thinking, that with some of the tech tenants coming into the market and some of the existing tenants within the market, that people like synergies and people like the ability for employees to collaborate and you don’t have to go up and down the stairwell, you don’t have to go up and down an elevator bank or switch towers.
“You can basically have that on one floor.”