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Strategic Group transforms downtown pit into soaring residential tower

The newest tower to complete Calgary’s skyline has reached its peak. Yesterday, Strategic Group CEO Riaz Mamdani joined community leaders to pour the final concrete on the rooftop of UPTEN—a 38-storey mixed-used, multi-family rental building in the fast-growing Victoria Park community of Calgary’s Beltline.

For years, Calgarians have traveled past a large pit on the corner of 10th Avenue and 1st Street SE. A remnant of the recession of 2008, the site lay dormant for years until Strategic Group purchased it with plans for development.

“We are very excited to celebrate the topping off of our 38-storey high rise—our largest high rise to date,” said Mr. Mamdani. “This is the culmination of our creative and unconventional approach. We acquired a six-storey, partially completed parkade and hole in the ground that was created well over a decade ago for a failed condo project and turned it into 379 rental residences in a dynamic retail environment.”

With a wide view of the city’s downtown behind him, Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas joined Mr. Mamdani in marking the milestone. When Strategic Group acquired the project in late 2014, it worked closely with The City of Calgary to get the appropriate development permits and zoning changes to allow for the current project.

“UPTEN represents the entrepreneurialism and resilience of Calgarians,” said Councillor Farkas. “A pit from two recessions past is now becoming a gleaming tower that will be home to hundreds of our citizens. Strategic Group is transforming our community in exciting ways, and I’m happy that The City of Calgary has played a role in making that happen.”

Current analysis of the Alberta office market shows that the office real estate market will not balance for another 12 to 16 years. Combined with a growing residential rental market, Strategic Group’s business plan includes a pivot toward increasing its residential portfolio by building new residential projects, such as UPTEN, and repurposing underused office space into residential buildings, such as the recently completed and leased Cube building on the western side of Calgary’s Beltline.

According to Calgary Chamber CEO Sandip Lalli, adapting business strategy is not uncommon in Calgary’s new economy.

“Strategic Group is an excellent example of a Calgary-based business that is thoughtfully responding to our changing economy,” said Dr. Lalli. “Their confidence in the future of Calgary and our business community is infectious, and I’m proud to have Mr. Mamdani and his colleagues be Chamber members.”

UPTEN is located just up 10th Ave on the southeast corner of downtown Calgary in the vibrant and diverse Beltline community just blocks from the soon-to-be developed Calgary Event Centre and Cultural and Entertainment District. The Beltline Neighbourhoods Association (BNA) is an active participant in advocacy and planning in the community.

“This is exactly the type of development we champion in the Beltline,” said BNA President Peter Oliver. “It’s exciting to see an empty corner be transformed with interactive retail and a vibrant community of residents in a multi-family residential tower like UPTEN. Strategic Group is a good neighbour in the Beltline, and we’re pleased to see this latest project from them take shape.”

When UPTEN opens in 2020, residents can expect the following amenities:

  • Luxury lobby with concierge

  • Coffee lounge

  • Party room with demonstration kitchen

  • Commercial-grade fitness facility

  • Podium level terrace with BBQs, fire tables, community garden, and variety of dining and lounging furniture

  • Meeting rooms

  • Sky lounge on the 41st floor

  • Rooftop patio with BBQs, outdoor movie screen, fire tables, and variety of seating for lounge and dining

  • Automated parcel delivery system

  • Bike wash

  • Car wash

  • Dog wash

  • Secure bike storage

  • Secure underground parking

With the completion of the concrete pour, UPTEN remains on schedule and on budget. It is being built by Strategic Group’s in-house development and building teams. To date, over 291,300 hours of work have gone into building UPTEN with as many as 160 workers on site on a single day.

UPTEN construction facts:

  • Cubic meters of concrete: 15,870 (parkade & tower).

  • Reinforcing steel: 1,905 tons

  • Weight of concrete: 27,931 tons

  • Approximately 1,450 truckloads of concrete

  • Approximately 95 days of pouring concrete

Photo: Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas, Aaron Wilson from Calgary Chamber, Tamara Marajh from Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, and Strategic Group CEO Riaz Mamdani atop 38-storeys at UPTEN.

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