Calgary Co-Op to Redevelop One of its Oldest Stores into Mixed-Use Community [Interviews/Renderings]

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One of the oldest Calgary Co-op stores, the second in the chain, is being transformed into a mixed-use community in partnership with Royop Development Corporation.

The local development company purchased the North Hill Co-op property site, along 16th Avenue NE, in September and will turn the property into a brand new Calgary Co-op grocery store, to replace the current 60-year-old supermarket, residential apartments, parkade, and two new commercial retail buildings.

Construction is set to begin in early 2023, first focused on a multi-storey mixed-use building with 180 residential apartments and townhomes with resort-like amenities such as an entertainment hub, sound stage, podcast studio, sports club, and culinary kitchen. The new building is expected to be ready for residents as early as autumn 2024. Below the residences will sit a 55,000-square-foot commercial level, featuring a new full-service Calgary Co-op grocery store, bank, and retail spaces. 

Jeremy Thal

Two additional commercial retail buildings will be constructed to house a Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer, Calgary Co-op cannabis shop, car wash and gas bar, and other service-oriented businesses. The existing Calgary Co-op gas bar will remain on the site with a new car wash to be added during the project. To accommodate an influx in shoppers and residents, two levels of parkade will also be added to the site.

“We are grateful for the opportunity.  This is a true example of a mixed-use development that will breathe new life into 16th Avenue,” said Jeremy Thal, President and CEO, Royop Development Corporation. “We are excited to be leading the transformation of 16th Avenue North East. We are more than excited to deliver what will be Calgary’s best example of a mixed-use grocery store with Calgary Co-op.”

Calgary Co-Op (Rendering: Royop Development Corporation)

Jacob Weber, Senior Vice President – Development, for Royop, said the company, which has been around for 60 years, historically has created many retail community centres throughout Alberta and Western Canada – many of them focused on grocery stores.

“Over the past five years we’ve transitioned into a pure mixed-use developer both horizontal and vertical in constructing purpose-built rental apartments and grocery stores,” he said. “We have many long-standing relations with all the grocers across the country. Calgary Co-op is no exception. We’ve had a long-standing relationship in working with them.

“They had aspirations in redeveloping this site for a number of years and they just weren’t able to pull it off themselves. So they came out a few years ago looking for someone to help them do that. They contacted us because of the relationship we have and our reputation for being able to develop a grocery store in particular. We just started working together with them, taking a look at the site. It’s a 60-year-old food store there. It’s definitely ready for a refresh and we saw a great opportunity to work with Co-op as a partner, create a new community hub for Winston Heights and Tuxedo (neighbourhoods) and beyond.”

He said the City of Calgary has invested heavily over the last few years to create a new corridor along 16th Avenue. 

“There’s a lot of positive momentum towards revitalizing this corridor for the city and we looked at it as a great opportunity to spearhead that,” added Weber. “This really is a really good opportunity to create something special for the city and that’s a lot of what we do – creating those special community, focused centres around a food store.

“The residential units will be purpose-built residential apartments.  There is very little supply of purpose-built rental in the surrounding neighbourhoods and particularly of the first class style that will be constructed.  We see our project as adding a much needed and desired housing type to the community, with the bonus of being located directly above a brand new food store.”

During construction the current Calgary Co-op store will remain operational until the new and larger, more efficient store is opened, at which time the old location will be demolished to make room for other new buildings.

“We are pleased to enter into a long-term relationship with Royop on the sale and lease back of this property,” says Damon Tanzola, Vice President, Facilities Development and Real Estate for Calgary Co-op. “This transaction is part of our redevelopment strategy which enables us to invest back into our member-owned businesses, provide enhanced amenities to the community and support the continuing sustainability of Calgary Co-op.”

Damon Tanzola

Ken Keelor, CEO of Calgary Co-op, said the North Hill store has been around for a long time with a number of renovations over the years. 

“That neighbourhood is changing over and it’s time to build a new store. You can tweak it that much. I’m hoping as we do this it will transform the store. We always talk about the goal of delivering exceptional customer experience. It’s very hard to do that in a very old store.

Ken Keelor

“This will be new. It will be modern. It will be larger than the current store and it will feature products and services that we continue to curate for the neighbourhood. The site will now have Co-op Wines, Spirits and Beer. It will have Cannabis and of course the gas bar, carwash. So it will become a bit of a one-stop shop as well for customers.”

Keelor said the new store will be 42,000 square feet. The current store is in the mid 30,000 square feet range.

The grocery chain is also currently working on adding a residential component to its store in its Oakridge location in the south part of Calgary. Other company sites could in the future see residential space added.

Owned by members, Calgary Co-op is one of the largest retail co-operatives in North America. Locations in Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, High River, Okotoks, and Strathmore include food centres, pharmacies, gas stations, car washes, commercial cardlocks, home health care centres, wine, spirits, and beer locations, cannabis, Community Natural Food stores and Beacon Pharmacies. With over 400,000 members, 3,850 employees, assets of $627 million and annual sales of $1.2 billion, Calgary Co-op was recognized as one of Alberta’s Top 75 Employers of 2022.

The first store opened on November 15, 1956. North Hill Centre, Calgary Co-op’s second store, opened in 1960.

Royop Development Corporation is Western Canada’s premier mixed-use real estate developer. With nearly 60 years of experience the company   manages 75 properties and has over $1.3 billion in real estate under development. 

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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