News / Edmonton

Oliver area telephone building to be exchanged into 'mercantile market'

Picture app developers, a small brewery, a coffee shop — all within the neighbourhood.

An interior rendering of what could be in store at the soon-to-open Oliver Exchange, located just off Jasper Avenue and near 124 Street.

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An interior rendering of what could be in store at the soon-to-open Oliver Exchange, located just off Jasper Avenue and near 124 Street.

In a city where it seems like historic buildings are demolished more frequently than allowed to stand, it's rare for a 100-year-old brick gem in a dense neighbourhood to hit the market, let alone survive.

Which is why Chris Dulaba with Edmonton's Beljan Development said his company snapped up the former West End Telephone Exchange at 102 Avenue and 121 Street when former owner Telus announced it was leaving. 

Telus was using the building as it had been used for 100 years — as a place for phone switches. 

"We felt a building like that, you could have said, 'Let's build lofts,' but we kind of felt there was something missing in the Oliver area, a draw factor for a mix of uses," Dulaba said of the two-storey brick building built in 1913. 

Dulaba said the idea for the exchange is to build a 'mercantile market,' which in daily use would see small-scale companies, makers, manufacturers and retailers sharing a common space that has a market-like atmosphere and community. 

"That could be app developers, a small brewery," he said.

He said the location — one block from 124 Street, Jasper Avenue and only a bit further from the future LRT on 104 Avenue — means the building could form a bit of a neighbourhood "hub," even though it's eschewing the ethos of building commercial space along Jasper.

"It's kind of trying to encourage interaction among different users, allowing entrepreneurs to have a bricks-and-mortar space without having to pay really high rents," Dulaba said.

The exchange will begin morphing around March, when Telus vacates, and Dulaba said a tentative opening date is later this fall.

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