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Riaz Mamdani

Riaz Mamdani and Strategic Group to re-purpose empty Calgary office space

Calgary-based Strategic Group has launched an aggressive plan to re-purpose under-utilized office space in the city for residential use, as it sees future growth in this segment of its real estate portfolio.

CEO Riaz Mamdani says Strategic Group is very bullish on the residential market and is both re-purposing office space and building new rental units. Strategic Group has 2,438 residential units either under construction or planned — 995 currently being built and 1,443 to be built in coming years. The business plan involves purpose-built, multi-family rental buildings.

“New construction is a viable business today for us. It’s a good business and it’s a way that we’re going to continue to increase our residential portfolio,” Mamdani told RENX in an exclusive interview, “so that we continue to evolve and grow that side of the business for the next 10 to 12 years when we know that our office buildings are going to be flat. Our growth is going to come from our residential.”

“We’ll get stability from our retail, growth from our residential, and on the office we just have to maintain it and do the absolute best we can while we ride out a storm.”

Read more of the exclusive story at Real Estate News EXchange.

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Strategic Group leads the industry in office-to-residential re-purposing

As Calgary’s downtown continues to struggle through a slow economic recovery, Strategic Group is doing its part by reinventing existing downtown buildings to create new rental homes for Calgarians. Between its current Calgary-based projects of the iconic Barron Building and Cube, Strategic Group is creating 159 new homes for Calgarians—part of more than 1,000 new multi-family rental homes Strategic Group is currently developing.

“We know that commercial-to-residential re-purposing will help reinvigorate our economy and add vitality to our downtown community,” says Riaz Mamdani, CEO of Strategic Group. “We also know that it makes good business sense.”

Market demand for residential rental is increasing as Alberta’s population continues to grow and consumers turn more to home rental than home ownership.

“We see a lot of value and opportunity in the residential rental market,” says Mamdani. “In particular, there is demand for new, high quality rental homes in dynamic inner-city communities.”

Strategic Group is leading the industry in office-to-residential re-purposing. It currently has four amenity-rich, environmentally conscious, and architecturally unique developments in construction in Calgary and Edmonton—with another two projects in the design stages.

Strategic Group has seven active or recently completed office conversions in its portfolio. Re-purposing projects are also an innovative way to reduce office vacancy—these particular projects reduce office space in Calgary and Edmonton by 760,000 square feet.

Cube, located in Calgary’s inner-city Beltline neighbourhood, is a 7-storey 65,157 square foot across the street from the Midtown Co-op. Development on the building started in spring 2018 making it Strategic Group’s first office-to-residential conversion project. When complete, it will feature 65 one- and two-bedroom units, 99 parking stalls, unique retail spaces at street level, and a rooftop patio for residents. It is well-connected to a walkable, bike-able, and amenity-rich community. Cube is opening in early March 2019.

Strategic Group is also proudly re-developing the iconic Barron Building in downtown Calgary. When it opened in 1951, the building marked a significant turning point in the oil and gas industry and was a symbol representing Calgary’s economic, social and political growth. The building is being re-purposed into a fully mixed-use building with office, retail and 94 residential rental units over 99,202 square feet.

“Honouring the historical legacy of the Barron Building is critical for us,” says Mamdani. “We are preserving the art deco-styled exterior and some of the interior details that make this such a special place.”

Sitting on the corner of 5th street and Stephen Avenue, the Barron Building will return to its place of prominence in the heart of downtown Calgary. It will also be the first residential building in Calgary to be connected to Calgary’s famous +15 walkway. Barron is scheduled to open to residents in 2020.

In Edmonton, Strategic Group is re-purposing two buildings in the city’s downtown: e11even and Capital.

  • e11even is a 12-storey, 148,855 square foot space that is being converted into a mix of 177 one- and two-bedroom residential rental suites. It will also include 141 underground parking stalls plus parking for 140 bikes, main floor apartments with large terraces, a lounge, gym and rooftop patio. e11even is opening in the summer of 2019.
  • Capital is also a 12-storey office-to-residential building. Its 169,096 square feet is being converted into 154 residential units plus a new 6-storey building of an additional 60 rental homes. Capital will feature balconies, 215 underground parking stalls, main floor lounge, and a gym facility. This first phase of Capital is opening in the summer of 2019.

Photo above: render of Cube and Barron Building.

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Randy Ferguson

Strategic Group promotes real estate executive Randy Ferguson to President

Strategic Group, one of Canada’s largest privately-held real estate companies, is pleased to announce the promotion of Randy Ferguson to the role of President. Randy will transition into the role immediately to successfully create and execute on value-added initiatives, new development projects, and strategies for the company’s continued growth.

“Randy’s exceptional understanding of this industry combined with his astute business acumen has been instrumental in growing our real estate portfolio and strengthening our internal operations,” said Riaz Mamdani, CEO of Strategic Group. “As Strategic Group evolves, defining new roles is important to our culture of learning, growing, and having fun. Randy is a valued advisor, and I look forward to this new chapter in Strategic Group’s history.”

In 2012, Randy joined Strategic Group as Chief Operating Officer (COO). A seasoned real estate professional with more than 40 years of industry experience, Randy has held senior positions with major companies across Canada, delivering results in retail, commercial, multi-family, and mixed-use spaces.  Randy’s expertise in process-driven core functions—combined with his passion for the deployment of technology to improve productivity—makes him a critical asset to Strategic Group in a changing industry and marketplace.

An industry leader and mentor, Randy has chaired the Calgary and Edmonton Real Estate forums and has collaborated with other real estate influencers to advise in the creation of the Real Estate and Entrepreneurial Studies at the Haskayne School of Business.

“To be the President of a company that cares about the industry, its team and its customers makes this recent career choice the most fulfilling,” said Randy.  “I’m honored to be part of a company that is truly creative and unconventional.”

In his role as President, Randy will work with the executive team to ensure that the transition is seamless and continues to deliver on the company’s goals and objectives.

For more information about Randy Ferguson, please see the story in the Calgary Herald.

From the Calgary Herald:

“Ferguson moved to Calgary in 2011 where he had worked with 20 Vic on the redevelopment of The Core, and was asked to join Strategic Group by CEO Riaz Mamdani the following year.
At that time the company’s portfolio was made up primarily of commercial properties, with only around 200 multi-family units owned. [Riaz] Mamdani is a visionary who believed he ought to diversify in this province and address what he felt was a growing need for rental apartments here. More than 50 per cent of rental properties were built in the 1970s and he felt young people wanted a modern space to live in, were not interested in paying a mortgage with their earnings, we were still welcoming new Calgarians, and seniors were better served by renting after selling their homes.

Today, Strategic has almost 4,000 units across Canada with 1,625 completed apartments in Calgary, with another 995 under construction and a further 1,000-plus units in the development stages here.

With the current oversupply of office space, Ferguson is concentrating on new builds and conversions to residential properties. In Edmonton, Strategic is repurposing two of its office buildings into rental apartments and work has begun in Calgary to convert its six-storey tower on the corner of 11th Avenue and 11th Street S.W. into Cube, providing 67 contemporary design units ideally located in the Beltline district right across from the Midtown Co-op store.”

Photo above: Randy Ferguson, President of Strategic Group, stands in the Barron Building, which will be re-purposed into high-quality multi-family rental suites by 2020.

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