Coaldale Civic Square – A New Centre Piece for the Downtown Core

Maintaining a vibrant downtown core has long been a priority for the Town of Coaldale. So, when Town Hall outgrew their old building, they decided to create a public/private partnership (3P) with Shift REI to build a new home in the heart of downtown. 

“Civic Square is representative of the innovative approach the Town has taken to promote our continued growth and prosperity and will serve as the centerpiece of Coaldale’s revitalized Main Street for years to come,” Coaldale Mayor Kim Craig said.

The first stage of the Civic Square will replace the building at 1801 20 Ave. and house the Town Hall, as well as commercial tenants while creating new public space available to all. A second stage will be developed later to utilize the empty lot adjacent to the space.

Shift REI is excited to be part of this partnership that will both invigorate the downtown and give Town Hall the space they need.

“As a resident of Coaldale, I’m thrilled to be a part of the tremendous momentum and opportunity in the Town, particularly in the downtown core,” Chet Oberkisrch, Managing Director of Shift Real Estate Investments, said. “Civic Square will not only be a new commercial centre in Coaldale; it also has great potential to double as a vibrant, multi-use space where everyone can gather, visit, and celebrate in the heart of the community.”

Shift REI broke ground on the project in August 2021. Construction is scheduled to finish in summer 2022, when the Town will take over their space, and Shift REI will work with local businesses to lease out the commercial space.

The Town of Coaldale

About 10 kms west of Lethbridge, Coaldale is a small bedroom community of less than 10,000 people, and serves surrounding farmers. 

Unlike many towns so close to cities, Coaldale has managed to keep the downtown alive through a mixture of initiatives and a strong sense of community. The vibrant downtown remains a priority of the town council, as they seek to help Coaldale businesses compete with the goods and services available in the bigger centre.

So, when council outgrew the old town hall, they decided to take a novel approach to building into their community. 

Building better

With savings in the bank, the Coaldale Council was well situated to make the move from their old, smaller offices into a custom-designed building that would better suit the needs of the growing community.

“Coaldale took an innovative approach to this project by recognizing that there was an opportunity here to see beyond our own needs for a new office and instead providing private developers and investors with the opportunity to bid on constructing a major commercial development that will also attract and retain businesses in our growing downtown,” Mayor Kim Craig said.

Besides more office space, the council wanted to pursue it’s support for a revived downtown through the new building, so securing a lot downtown was the first priority.

But, the town wanted to do more than just build a new town hall. Instead, they chose to invest in their community through a private/public partnership. The new building goes beyond simple city offices to create public and commercial space in the downtown core.

But, to do that, they had to work with a company who could help them design and build a space that would draw businesses and add to the vibrancy of their downtown

The right developer

With big ambitions and an innovative approach, the Town of Coaldale needed more than just another developer. They needed a company that understands the needs of tenants and the ability to work with all stakeholders. 

“After reviewing several great proposals, Shift REI was chosen to take on the project and we’re excited to see the final result come to fruition,” Coaldale Mayor Kim Craig said.

As both landlord and developer, Shift REI brought a unique viewpoint and abilities to the project. Our extensive portfolio, which covers much of southern Alberta along with a variety of industries, gives us the experience to work through the difficulties of designing a building for multiple uses.

Building through a pandemic

Once we won the contract, we faced one of the largest hurdles we’ve ever encountered in a project: the pandemic.

Material shortages and resulting increase in prices caused by COVID required a full redesign of the project. By working with the Town of Coaldale, our contractor and suppliers, we were able to lower costs and improve timeline issues caused by material shortages.

The new Civic Square

We knew going into the design of the building that it would need to be something special. The Civic Square would act as a focal point for downtown Coaldale for years to come and would need to embody the energy that council was looking to produce in downtown. 

To make sure the building would bring visual interest to the downtown core, we worked with Silver Ridge Construction and their in-house team of designers.

The building, when finished, will incorporate 19,407 sq/ft of space in total. The Town of Coaldale will retain ownership of 14,903 sq/ft, while 4,504 sq/ft will be rented out to commercial tenants.

The Town of Coaldale’s part of the building will include:

  • Council Chambers on the main floor
  • Administrative office space on the second floor 
  • The public atrium
  • Meeting rooms

Shift REI will maintain ownership of the four commercial spaces within the Civic Square building in phase one. We will partner with local businesses to develop these spaces, which will be available for sale or lease.

This first phase of the project is scheduled for completion in August 2022.