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Aspen Properties executive, from left, Scott Hutcheson, executive chair of the board, COO Rob Blackwell, and CEO Greg Guatto, in the new lobby at The Ampersand. Photo credit: Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

Aspen Properties’ three-tower high-rise complex known as The Ampersand represents the Calgary-based real estate firm’s vision of the office tower of the 2020s.

“We named it after what we think is a pretty cool symbol,” says Scott Hutcheson, executive chair of Aspen, noting Ampersand is the word for the ‘&’ symbol which means ‘and’ — reflecting that the high-rise offers tenants so much more than the typical office building.

“It also speaks to the idea there are many prospective tenants — with different tastes — that would be right at home at The Ampersand,” he adds.

A full-service fitness centre, yoga studio, an indoor food-truck food-court, a full-sized basketball court and a library are just a handful of the 56,000 square feet of amenities in the complex.

Formerly known as the Sun Life Plaza, Aspen purchased the property in 2018, investing $25-million in a complete makeover to modernize it. The 1.1 million-square-foot complex is among a dozen properties owned and operated by the privately held boutique real estate company.

To the outside observer, the strategy might seem ill-timed given the fact Calgary’s office market has been hit hard by the energy industry downturn and the pandemic.

“There is 30 per cent vacancy downtown, with a flight to quality as businesses with leases up for renewal are moving to better properties,” says Rob Blackwell, Aspen’s chief operating officer.

That’s where The Ampersand and other Aspen properties, such as The Edison, stand out; they are able to win over new tenants seeking high-end office space with unparalleled amenities.

Among those amenities at The Ampersand is Lil E Café, which employs individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, providing meaningful work experience, says Greg Guatto, Aspen president and CEO.

“That’s had a huge impact on tenants and really speaks to the community feel at The Ampersand that goes beyond the plethora of amenities it offers.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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