BY RICHARD GILBERT - A company based in Vancouver and Hong Kong is proposing to construct a multi-tower, mixed-use development in northeastern Alberta, which combines a medical facility and hotel, with commercial and office space.
Golden Buffalo Development Inc. was founded in January 2013 to construct, own and operate two towers called the Golden Buffalo Centre in downtown Fort McMurray, at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Hardin Street.
The medical complex, which is a multi-storey podium linking the project’s individual towers, will be the anchor tenant with 71,726 square feet of floor space. It will have offices for ambulatory care, a pharmacy and supporting retail stores.
In terms of medical services, the facility will provide same day surgical care for patients, who can recuperate safely at home, as well as a walk-in medical clinic.
The clinic will serve as an intake medical facility.
In addition, the medical center will feature several operating rooms, MRI facility, minor procedures rooms and a rehabilitation centre.
The facility will also be equipped to provide emergency services for patients in transit to hospital care in Fort McMurray or Edmonton, which includes helicopter service.
The medical complex will be combined with a 200 room extended-stay hotel.
It will offer a limited number of short stay guest rooms for patients, who receive care over a period of days or weeks.
The guest suites will have a kitchen with laundry, a bathroom and extra height ceilings.
Tower 1 will be a 37-storey building with 422,000-square-feet of office space.
Tower 2 will have 146,214 square feet of space for an indoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex spread over 5 storeys.
The towers will feature pre-cast modular construction techniques, which involve reinforced and post-tensioned insulated concrete within a glass façade.
The facility is aiming to achieve Silver certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for New Buildings.
In total, the development will add about 863,000 square feet of floor space in downtown Fort McMurray.
Fort McMurray is the largest community in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in northeastern Alberta,
According to the City Centre Area Redevelopment Plan (CCARP), Fort McMurray’s resident population was estimated to be about 76,797 in 2010, with about 16.6 per cent or 12,797 people living in the city centre.
The CCARP predicts that the population of Fort McMurray will be 196,000 in 2030, with about 24.5 per cent or 48,110 people living in the City Centre.
This population growth in Fort McMurray is being driven by the rapid development of the oilsands industry and the strong job market it has created.
The CCARP also predicts total employment in the city centre will increase to 29,000 in 2030 from 5,600 in 2010.
In the coming decades, it is assumed that employment will continue to be dominated by the oil and gas sector.
However, the proportion of employment in other industries, including health care and social services, wholesale trade, retail trade, finance and real estate, and business services could increase as the local economy expands and diversifies.
Conservative projections of the total amount of space required in the city centre indicate a potential demand for new office space.
The demand has been summarized as follows:
1 million sq. ft. (housing 4,400 new workers) by 2015; and
5.3 million sq. ft. (housing 23,300 new workers) by 2030;
More aggressive projections produce a demand for:
2.0 million sq. ft. (housing 8,800 additional office jobs) by 2015; and
10.7 million sq. ft. (housing 46,600 office jobs) by 2030.