A longstanding community centre that serves Edmonton’s vulnerable downtown population will move to a new home following the sale of its current property to the Oilers Entertainment Group.
Boyle Street Community Services is planning to move two blocks north of its current site to a building at 10010 107A Ave., which is expected to open in spring 2023 after renovations have been completed.
The new site will be a much-needed upgrade from Boyle Street’s current home at 10116 105 Ave., a 33,000-square-foot former banana-ripening warehouse that is “crumbling,” said Boyle Street executive director Jordan Reiniger.
Boyle Street, which marked its 50th anniversary this year, has been looking for a new home for about six years.
Reiniger said improving the current property would have taken a substantial investment.
“Our community members told us very loud and clear that we needed to stay in this area, that this was an important place for us to be,” he said.
After finally finding the 2.5-acre property that met the organization’s needs, Reiniger said Boyle Street approached OEG to see if they could make a deal on the existing property, which is immediately northeast of Rogers Place.
OEG paid $5 million — the appraised value of the site, according to Boyle Street — and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation donated an additional $10 million toward the $28.5-million total cost for the new centre.
Boyle Street is launching a fundraising campaign Wednesday to raise the remaining $13.5 million needed to complete renovations.
‘A beautiful building’
Reiniger said the new centre will allow the organization to continue providing services to clients, offering support for things like housing, mental health and addiction.
“We really wanted to create a beautiful building that was for them, where they could feel like they belonged,” he said.
“And that’s a big driver for us to show that this building is going to be one of the nicest buildings in Edmonton and that they matter and that they deserve that.”
The new property has a main building which will have up to 75,000 square feet of space, plus room for outdoor courtyards so clients can gather in a park-like area instead of being crowded onto a sidewalk.
There will also be an outdoor ceremonial space — one of the ways Indigenous culture will be incorporated into the new facility.
Reiniger said it’s important to connect the centre’s work with spiritual and cultural ways of life for clients, many of whom are Indigenous.
“Designing and building around that allows us to to really significantly improve the outcomes that we have for the people that we serve, and have that as a foundation in everything we do,” he said.
The property purchased by Boyle Street also includes a 38-unit apartment building where suites rent at below-market rates.
Reiniger said a few Boyle Street clients are among the existing tenants, and that Boyle Street will continue to operate the apartment. He said the organization intends to honour the current rent rates and existing leases in the building.
With design work still underway, Boyle Street is planning engagement with surrounding businesses, community groups and residents. Construction is expected to begin in 2022.
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