Edmontons Collect Co. breathes new life into outdated buildings | RENX
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tough year for tenants in downtown Edmonton from Gather Co. Independent restaurants, bars, and tech startups fill the nine houses of Gather Co.
“We’ve had a bit of a fluctuation, but we’re working with everyone to make sure everyone gets away, and so do we,” said Devin Pope, partner at Gather Co., in a recent interview with RENX.
Gather Co. is a family business run by Devin, father Kelly, and sister Lara Lukian-Pope. Devin said he knows firsthand how tough it has been in the restaurant business because he also owns the Mercer Tavern, a large restaurant in one of the company’s buildings.
Gather Co.’s expertise lies in breathing new life into older buildings. The company’s business model involves partnering with the independent entrepreneurs who have settled in its buildings.
“We want to bring business owners and communities together to make Edmonton a better place,” said Pope.
Collect the success of Co. with Corso 32
One of the first corporate ventures was Corso 32, an award-winning high-end restaurant in the 11,000 square meter Jasper 104 building.
Pope said when he started speaking to chef and restaurant entrepreneur Daniel Costa 12 years ago he knew he wanted to realize his vision for the building that now houses Corso 32 and Costa’s other Uccelino and Bar Bricco projects.
Costa said there was a family aspect to the relationship with the Popes. He won’t say exactly what precautions were taken, but does point out that Gather Co. has been flexible throughout the pandemic.
“They said, ‘We’ll do everything we can to make sure you get through this,’” recalls Costa. “We never took advantage of them and they never took advantage of us.”
Lease flexibility is an important part of the relationship Gather Co. has with tenants in its 42,000-square-foot Mercer Warehouse. Built in 1911, Mercer is on the edge of the city’s now bustling Ice District on trendy 104th Street.
Tech incubator at The Mercer
Pope said he and his father went to see the Mercer long before conversations about the nearby Edmonton new arena began: “The building was so beautiful and no one did anything with it, so we ended up taking it over.”
Pope showed Ken Bautista and Cam Link, two entrepreneurs working on a tech incubator, through the old building they loved despite a leaky ceiling.
The renovated warehouse now houses the Edmonton startup on the top floor, which is home to a number of startups and small startup technology firms. Offices for college graduates and growing tech companies are located on the second floor.
“The Popes understand the needs of businesses in the early stages incredibly well,” said Lauren Briske, interim director of startup Edmonton. “(Start-up technology companies) find it difficult to commit to five-year office leases in the city center. The Popes are offering companies more flexible rental agreements to accommodate this growth. “
Pope added that he and his father also invested directly in some of the tech companies starting in their building.
“We were involved in a company called Varafy that was just acquired – they’re in the edtech sector,” said Pope. The company has also invested in a pre-seed fund called Flight Path Ventures.
The furnace block renovation
One of Gather Co.’s latest projects is the renovation of the Stovel Block, a listed building in the Quartier District, into a transitional apartment for homeless women in the charitable sector.
Pope says the original plan was to convert the stovel into a co-work space until COVID forced a rethink. The building is located in downtown the city, and the plight of Edmonton’s homeless population has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“The homelessness and poverty as well as the housing situation were pretty sad. We started to think about going back to living. It was a residential building. “
Two floors of the three-story building are used for around 30 women. Boyle Street Community Services is a partner of the project, collects donations for the project and arranges customers.
Gather Co. will act as administrator of the building, which is scheduled to be operational in a few months.
A city grants $ 645,000 in chips for the $ 1,356,000 restoration of the 9,800-square-foot historic building.
Pope said the building’s ground floor will eventually house the independent retailer Glass Bookshop. L7 Architects and the city are working on the restoration.
Other Gather Co. buildings
Edmonton City Councilor Scott McKeen has met with the Popes several times over the years. He commends her commitment to keeping downtown Edmonton alive and preserving older buildings.
“These are not easy projects – going in there and breathing new life into historic buildings,” McKeen said.
Other Gather Co. properties include the Dazmo Building, an industrial building behind MacEwan University that was painted in a striking black and white pattern by a local artist. A one-story warehouse in the same light industrial area that houses an art gallery and fitness company also features signature outdoor art.
The company owns the main business unit of The Pearl Condo building in the Oliver neighborhood. This podium structure is home to a restaurant called Toast Culture and the Clementine Bar, a lively cocktail spot.
Gather Co. is also planning to redesign the Milla, an old, buffalo-colored stucco building just north of the Ice District that housed Edmonton’s first gay bar.