Downtown's Edmonton House under new ownership after $51 million deal

“It’s a pretty predominant and iconic tower in Edmonton, so it deserves something special. So, hopefully we get it right,” said Leston Holdings president David Mitton

Article content

Edmonton House, a staple of the city’s skyline, was purchased by Leston Holdings on Wednesday for $51 million.

“It’s a pretty predominant and iconic tower in Edmonton, so it deserves something special. So, hopefully we get it right,” said Leston Holdings president David Mitton.

Leston finalized the sale on Wednesday amid its recent investments in several other properties Downtown. The plan for the building is to spruce up the outside, redevelop most of the remaining office space and continue to offer residential rentals. Perched high on Bellamy Hill, Edmonton House sits like a tombolo with only a chateau above, offering royal views from its 45 storeys.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Edmonton House has had a rich history since it was built, in all senses of the word. The building was the brain child of Jean de La Bruyère and Sandy Mactaggart of MacLab Enterprises Ltd. MacLab and Standard Life Assurance Company Ltd. put up the nearly $7 million to construct the original building in 1971. At the time, de La Bruyère and Mactaggart were shooting for a luxury space.

With a pool, restaurant, wide balconies and “tastefully decorated interior,” the space sought to offer elite living for those that could afford it. At the time, the Journal reported that anyone could live there, so long as they could afford the hefty rent that the building demanded. Rents started at about $300 per month for a two-bedroom, which might be a welcomed price for renters now, but adjusted for modern inflation, according to the Bank of Canada’s inflation calculator, the modern equivalent would be more than $2,300 per month.

For contrast, the $7 million build equates to $55 million in 2024 dollars, showing the building’s value held up over the years.

Edmonton House was built with the intent of ushering in a new way of life that cut out long commutes, giving its occupants a residence in the heart of the city near their employment. It offered more than 300 units, accommodating roughly 700 occupants, and was considered the first of its kind in Canada and the largest apartment building in the city.

Advertisement 3

Article content

Recommended from Editorial

The developers were taking a gamble when they came up with the idea in 1967 that “Edmonton could supply enough of the jet-set crowd of swingers to fill a high-priced but luxurious apartment building,” wrote Tom Campbell of the Journal at the time.

Since its opening, the building was converted to a hotel for a time, and back again to apartments. Its storied history and forward-thinking amenities made it an attractive opportunity for Leston. While swimming pools might still be a luxury, fitness facilities and public gathering spaces are increasingly more common in apartments, which the Edmonton House already had, making the turnaround time for refurbishments shorter.

Mitton couldn’t say when renovations would be complete. The group is in the design stage and is keen to make the most of the building period throughout the spring, summer, and early fall.

Mitton spoke fondly of the group’s new acquisition.

“Everybody seems to have a story about it, whether they stayed in it way back when it was a hotel, or since it was an apartment, they dropped into that restaurant. Everybody knows it. So we’re really excited to purchase it,” he said.

Leston intends to keep all 320 residential units, with renovations as needed, and will refresh the exterior,  converting some of the remaining office space to new residential units. Edmonton House is just the latest purchase for Leston who have invested, by Mitton’s estimation, roughly $150 million into Downtown Edmonton.

[email protected]

Twitter/X: @ZacharyDelaney

Article content