Mamdani Arts Leadership Award recipients announced

Congratulations to Meg Van Rosendaal and Bob Chartier for receiving the Mamdani Arts Leadership Award! Meg and Bob are the are the community-builders behind the vision for Calgary’s Music Mile. Over the last several years they have worked with venues, musicians and community members to amplify the music scene that exists between the National Music Centre and The Blues Can all year round. Their volunteer leadership and commitment made them perfect recipients of this year’s award.

“Meg and Bob have been instrumental to the creation of the Music Mile in Calgary,” said Strategic Group CEO Riaz Mamdani. “Their leadership, their devotion, their commitment… their vision of creating more gigs for more musicians in more locations has made the Music Mile the incredible success it is today.”

Normally announced during the annual Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions, the Cultural Leaders Legacy Awards honour some of the very best of Calgary’s arts and culture industry. Strategic Group is proud to sponsor the Mamdani Arts Leadership Award (named after the Mamdani family) to celebrate and support the sometimes unsung heroes of arts and culture organizations: volunteer board members.

Learn more about this year’s winners on Calgary Arts Development’s website.

Meg and Bob are the second recipients of this award. Last year’s recipient was Peter Schryvers for his leadership in the creation of the Beltline Urban Murals Project and Festival.

(Photo: Riaz Mamdani and Bob Chartier talk about future plans for Music Mile.)

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Strategic Group to reorganize its real estate portfolio in response to the Alberta economy

Today, Strategic Group announced a plan to reorganize its real estate portfolio. This decision reflects the prolonged downturn of the Alberta economy and its negative impact on the real estate office market. For the past five years, Calgary has endured a high office vacancy rate which, according to industry forecasting, will not normalize for many years to come.

“Alberta’s severely negative economy has seen our company try to battle the storm for the past five years. Despite my Teams’ innovative approach to an ever-changing landscape, we must immediately deal with the current market conditions and pessimistic outlook for the real estate office market,” said Riaz Mamdani, CEO of Strategic Group. “This is an evolution of our business given the prolonged high office vacancy in Alberta. We are developing a plan for an orderly disposition of specific assets to ensure a sustainable future for Strategic Group.”

Strategic Group’s sizable exposure to the office market is a significant risk for the longevity of the company. For example, since mid-2014, 78 tenants occupying 573,333 square feet did not survive as going concerns or otherwise did not remain in their leased premises, despite being under lease agreements.

In recent years, Strategic Group has diversified its real estate to include a viable multi-family rental portfolio. This business strategy was designed to support a long-term successful future for the company.

Strategic Group’s plan, in part, includes a select portion of its commercial real estate portfolio yesterday having sought and obtained protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). Under the terms of the court order, the companies that have sought protection remain in possession and control of their assets, subject to the oversight of the Court and a court-appointed monitor, Hardie & Kelly Inc.  Neil Narfason has been retained as Chief Restructuring Officer. Mr. Narfason has over thirty years of experience advising similar corporate groups and has led numerous successful restructurings.

Strategic Group’s property management, service companies, and development and construction business will not be affected. Strategic Group will continue to manage all of its properties. Projects currently under construction are not impacted.

“We are focused to create a strong new future for Strategic Group and all of our stakeholders,” said Mr. Mamdani. “It is our desire to be a vibrant contributor to our city and province.”

For more information about this reorganization of part of Strategic Group’s real estate assets and the CCAA, please visit 

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Riaz Mamdani: Repurposing office space is part of the solution

The following excerpt is from the Globe and Mail article “Can millennials save Calgary’s vacancy crisis?” 

Millennials are breathing new life into Calgary’s empty office towers, industry insiders say. But it’s not a return to business as usual.

“We’re battling the storm,” says developer Riaz Mamdani, who has successfully repurposed several empty office buildings into hip new rentals and self-storage space targeting those who can’t or no longer wish to own.

“The market is changing,” says Mr. Mamdani, chief executive officer of Strategic Group, one of Canada’s largest privately held real-estate companies. “Millennials are more interested in renting than owning. We’re creating a lot more purpose-built rentals than ever existed before.”

Office conversions are the hallmark of Strategic Group’s business plan. By the end of 2020, the company expects to have reduced its Alberta office space by 18 per cent and increased its residential units by 53 per cent.

It’s a business strategy necessitated out of “desperation,” says Mr. Mamdani, because the company invested in commercial real estate prior to the collapse of the energy industry that devastated Alberta and Calgary, the headquarter capital of the oil sector…

Read the rest at the Globe and Mail.

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