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  • City to support redevelopment of Post Office building

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    Following more than a year of behind the scenes planning, the City of Lethbridge is excited to see Sumus Property Group Ltd. starting an extensive modernization of the downtown Post Office building.

    While specific details are still to be finalized, the City of Lethbridge is committed to supporting the redevelopment through improvements to the public space surrounding the building. This includes the addition of a new cycling lane on 7 Street and a public art feature. Sumus Property Group Ltd and the City of Lethbridge will also establish a long-term agreement for parking in the downtown Park 'n' Ride facility and work together to access any available development grant incentives.

    The construction costs are projected to exceed $12 million, which would represent the biggest single private investment in the downtown in nearly 20 years. This comes just months after Six08 Health announced a major redevelopment on 5 Ave. S. Combined, these two projects amount to a nearly $17 million investment in downtown Lethbridge.

    "We are excited to be part of a joint commitment to revitalize and modernize the downtown Post Office as this project will breathe new life into our city's most iconic building," says Andrew Malcolm, City of Lethbridge, Urban Revitalization Manager. "This is another fantastic project that will bring more people, more activity and more vitality to the downtown."

    "When looking for real estate opportunities there is significant value in something non-replicable. The downtown Post building fits this description with its unique history and accessible location," says Kendal Hachkowski, Sumus Property Group Ltd. Managing Director. "In conjunction with our many partners, and a special thank you to the City of Lethbridge, the Post will be a new businesses hub for innovation, community and collaboration."

    Also known as the J.D. Higinbotham Building, the Post Office is designated a Provincial Historic Building. It was constructed in 1912-13 to the designs of Chief Architect David Ewart. The Post Office has always held significance because of its status as a civic landmark. The height, architectural detail and unique character of the domed clock tower make it one of the most prominent buildings in Lethbridge.

    For more information on events, activities and redevelopment incentives for downtown Lethbridge visit www.lethbridge.ca/downtown.


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  • Recently Approved Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program Ready to Launch

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    Recently Approved Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program Ready to Launch

    Applications for the City’s new Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program will be accepted starting August 26. The program provides a matching grant to those wishing to renovate or adapt existing buildings that have historically significance, are deteriorating or that need improvement to meet current fire and building codes.

    The Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program aims to support business and property owners in addressing the financial barriers that come with aging buildings. By giving new life to existing buildings, there is significant economic, social and environmental benefits for the community. This program will help add function, safety and vibrancy to the spaces that make Lethbridge unique.

    The Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program can provide up to $100,000 in matching funding per property and applies to buildings in the downtown, warehouse district and 13 St. N.

    City Council approved $900,000 in funding for the Adaptive Reuse Incentive Program as part of the 2019-2022 Operating Budget. This will be spread out over the 4-year period.

    Applications will be accepted throughout the year. Should there be inadequate annual funding to meet demand, applications will be held in queue and processed in chronological order as funding becomes available.

    Details on the program including eligibility and funding can be found website at: www.lethbridge.ca/downtownincentives.





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  • Historic Buildings Add to Downtown

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    Our Downtown holds significance as the historic, symbolic, and perhaps most importantly, the functional core of Lethbridge. While suburban expansion of the City to the south, north, and west and several whole-block redevelopments of large sections of Downtown (i.e. Lethbridge Centre Mall and Park Place Mall) have changed the city centre markedly, Downtown retains many of the characteristics that made it an important regional centre for commerce, tourism, transportation and living over the last century including a fantastic supply of buildings with historic significance

    The preservation of these historic buildings along with the appropriate integration of new development with existing buildings has been a major focus of those involved in the revitalization of the Downtown. Whether big or small, dramatic or modest, historic buildings and compatible new development add richness and variety to the urban form of our Downtown and help forge a powerful bond between the present and past.

    For many years, buildings with historic significance have been viewed by some as a barrier to redevelopment. However, over the last decade, with the vision and guidance of City of Lethbridge’s Municipal Development Plan, Heart of Our City Master Plan, Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan and Heritage Management Plan, this perspective has largely been reversed by identifying practical and achievable objectives, actions, and strategies to protect and manage the Downtown and Lethbridge’s historic buildings.

    Today, historic buildings and the overall historic character of the Downtown are seen more as an asset than a burden to redevelopment. Some excellent examples of these efforts include: conservation of the Bowman Building, sensitive additions at the Galt Museum and Southern Alberta Art Gallery, adaptive reuse of Suites at 601 and Oliver Building, new construction of the Scotia Bank incorporating tyndall stone – a historic downtown element – and countless improvements to building facades and signage.

    Historic buildings provide character, continuity and a sense of uniqueness to our Downtown and the efforts of all those who have contributed time and financial investments to the protection, conservation, and integration of historic buildings in our Downtown is greatly appreciated as there is clearly value in old bricks.

    I challenge every resident to help Our Downtown to be the best it can be. With our partners on the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of Our City Committee, we encourage you to contribute to the content of this column with your comments, questions, ideas, and suggestions by engaging with us on Twitter (@DowntownLeth) using the hashtag #ourdowntown.


    * This column was published September 24, 2018 in the Lethbridge Herald.
    * Herald photo by Ian Martens



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