News release - Alberta Ecotrust invests in converting office space into residential units in Calgary

Rendering image of how an office building will look after being converted to mixed-use in Calgary




Alberta Ecotrust invests in converting office space into residential units in Calgary

CALGARY, June 27, 2024 – Alberta Ecotrust Foundation is proud to announce its investment of $900,000 from its Climate Innovation Fund in a project that will repurpose an existing underutilized office building into residential units in downtown Calgary. Known as Place 800, this project led by the Astra Group and Peoplefirst Developments, will help address Calgary's affordable housing shortage, reduce emissions and champion environmental sustainability and economic revitalization. 

Place 800, a 17-story office building spanning 205,000 square feet in downtown Calgary, will be converted into a versatile mixed-use facility with 204 residential rental units ready for occupancy by 2025. The retrofit process will focus on making the building and its heating and cooling systems highly energy efficient.

The project will result in 40 per cent of the residential units being priced 20 per cent below market rental rates, and achieve a 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through deep retrofits. Place 800 will set the standard for office building conversions in Calgary, showcasing the economic and environmental benefits of such initiatives. 

"Through our Climate Innovation Fund, we invest in urban climate solutions that tackle multiple societal and environmental challenges simultaneously," said Mike Mellross, Vice President of Alberta Ecotrust Foundation. “Astra and Peoplefirst’s approach has the potential to be widely replicated, driving broader systemic change toward more sustainable urban development.”

"Place 800 is a key part of our ongoing efforts to revitalize and increase vibrancy in Calgary's Downtown West End," said Maxim Olshevsky, CEO of Astra Group and Peoplefirst Developments. "By repurposing existing buildings, we aim to provide affordable, accessible, and energy-efficient housing for Calgarians. Contributing to the broader revitalization of Calgary's downtown west end, Place 800 adds to the vibrancy and sustainability of our city. This project aligns with the city's major municipal initiatives, creating a more dynamic urban environment. We are grateful for our partnership with the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation on this project.”

The City of Calgary is supporting this project through Calgary's Downtown Development Incentive Program. 

“The collaboration between the Astra Group, the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation and the City of Calgary to repurpose an existing office building shows that it’s possible to address the housing shortage without compromising Canada’s climate goals. Climate Innovation Fund projects like the one announced today in Calgary highlight Canada’s drive to collaborate with local governments in offering affordable housing options for families, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and supporting sustainable communities across Alberta.” – The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources

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About Alberta Ecotrust Foundation and the Climate Innovation Fund
Alberta Ecotrust Foundation is a charity working to create a healthier environment for all Albertans. As a founding member of the Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3) network, it received an endowment from the federal government to create the Climate Innovation Fund. The Fund provides a suite of programs to complement and advance the climate leadership work undertaken by the Cities of Calgary and Edmonton.

LC3 is implemented in partnership among seven local centres and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). LC3 is part of a Government of Canada investment to accelerate urban climate solutions and help achieve Canada’s climate goal of net-zero by 2050.


About Astra Group
Astra is a group of companies that work synergistically to create more equitable, sustainable housing and value for stakeholders.

Astra Group includes development, construction, property management, and ownership. This holistic approach enables them to integrate their values throughout the operations. With this model, they work with stakeholders to create building environments that benefit the planet,  communities, and the people who live in them.

In their 10 years, they have expanded from a premier commercial-residential renovator into a group of companies leading the way in Western Canada in terms of impact development and adaptive reuse. Their steady growth is based on an innovative approach to fiscal, environmental, social, and governance responsibility. 


About Peoplefirst Developments
Peoplefirst is an impact development company. They aim to improve lives through socially responsible development and to transform communities by generating an abundance of opportunities for all people. They convert underutilized properties, especially empty downtown office towers, into multifamily properties with a focus on affordability, accessibility, and energy efficiency.

By repurposing buildings that can no longer fulfil their purpose, by using green construction, and by incorporating community needs into design, they aim to create properties that better support people and communities and that remain ecologically viable into the future.


Media contact:

Andrea Soler
Communications Director, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation / 403-209-2245