For the first time in the City of Kitchener, a downtown office high-rise is being converted into rental units.

The building at 22 Frederick Street housed City of Kitchener administration for years but now the building is undergoing a transition to housing, making it the third time the building has been recycled for a new purpose.

“I think it’ll bring a lot of good value for the community,” said Josef Jakubovic, co-owner of the building’s property owner Europro.

The vacant office building will be turned into 91 rental units with a restaurant on the ground floor which will be accessible to residents and the public.

“22 Frederick is an ideal point tower configuration that the distance between the core and the window is a responsible distance to be able to provide residential units,” said Laird Robertson, president creative director at Neo Architecture Inc.

According to Europro, it will take 12 to 18 months to renovate the space into 91 rental units. The plan for the 12-storey building is to have nine units per floor with a mix of one and two bedroom units.

“I think it’s harder to do than people give it credit for because when you have a blank slate, you have to make sure you are maximizing space,” said Jesse Nathanson, vice president of Europro. “This building…worked very well for the conversion. We’re in for a tender right now, we’re estimating north of $20 million.”

22 fredrick st kitchener

How much it will cost per unit is still up in the air, according to Europro, as they’re waiting to see what the market looks like at the time they are complete.

Additional parking spaces will also be offered to renters of the units.

“So there’s ample parking now and in the future, paid parking obviously,” Nathanson said. “So we’ll be able to accommodate residents’ needs with parking especially with Market Square Right across the street.”

Robertson said the building was left vacant for over a year, making it a perfect opportunity to convert into housing as demand for office space remains low.

“There’s a housing crisis, we all know about the housing crisis…an incredible demand for housing,” he said. “So conversion allows to sort of advance the time frame of getting housing on the market.”

While this may be the first office to housing transition in the area, the City of Kitchener believes it’s likely more vacant spaces will be converted into residential units amid shortages.

“It’s certainly something we are seeing a growing interest in and from an environmental perspective, it’s a great opportunity to reuse an existing building,” said Garrett Stevenson, director of planning at the City of Kitchener. “It’s repurposing existing floor area to a much needed use which is housing.”

Europro said the completion of the renovation work is expected mid to late 2024.