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    Posted April 29, 2014 by
    Calgary, Alberta

    Frank Lonardelli and Community Involvement in Commercial Real Estate Development

    In many ways, commercial real estate developers are some of the most influential people in shaping how a city will look and grow. Naturally, other capitalistic concerns and municipal rules play their part, but oftentimes, how many grocery stores a city will have and how much office space a given part of a city will have will be shaped not so much by the city residents, but by the decisions of commercial real estate developers and investors.

    Whether this reality is fair and whether a greater amount of city regulations should more strictly guide the growth patterns of a given city is a topic for a different and probably lengthier article.

    Instead, the purpose of this article is to comment on those commercial developers who value community involvement in their investment process, and who indeed make a point of trying to include as much community involvement in their process as possible.

    The investment firm, Arlington Street Investments Inc., founded by C.E.O., Frank Lonardelli, happens to be just one of those types of commercial developers. Formed in 2000, Arlington Street is a Canadian firm that has made a name for itself in the Calgary commercial real estate world ever since its founding. And it’s a company that takes pride in their capacity to successfully execute a very specific real estate investment model: namely, find Calgary properties that are in prime position for redevelopment and do just that – redevelop them. Oftentimes, like for instance, in Arlington Street’s 8th Avenue Limited property, that means fully stripping the building down and adding entirely brand new property features, significantly greater density, and redesigning the building to meet the desires of entirely new types of tenants.

    Arlington Street’s investment model of redeveloping older properties also happens to set them up perfectly for gaining the input of the community as far as how they should redevelop the buildings they invest in – which is exactly what Frank Lonardelli and Arlington Street do.

    Mr. Lonardelli explains the point in greater detail, “My team at Arlington Street looks to invest in worn-out buildings . . . buildings that, well, probably have seen better days, and we redevelop them, sometimes from the ground up.” Mr. Lonardelli continues on, “In many ways, our investments add to the fabric of the community because we re-inject value into old, languishing buildings in Calgary. But, we don’t leave community involvement at just that. During the redevelopment stages of each one of our projects, we regularly seek input from community members as well.”

    A perfect example of this point is when Frank Lonardelli and Arlington Street Investments purchased their Windsor property, which property is comprised of 7 titles and over 52,000 sf located at 735 – 739 50 Avenue SW, 5112 Elbow Drive SW, and 728 – 736 51 Avenue SW in Calgary. Arlington Street directly engaged the Elboya, Britannia and Windsor Park communities for their input very early in the redevelopment process. They held several town hall meetings, open houses and workshops to inform and update community members on how they were beginning to consider redeveloping the property as well as actively sought their input in terms of what they were looking for and what they felt was missing in their communities.

    Mr. Lonardelli sums up the point in this way, “In the end, the buildings that we are developing – they’re going to be used not by us, but by the community for many years to come, not to mention the fact that what we are creating is tangible; we get to drive by and walk by our buildings daily and proudly say, “we built that.” Community members are going to be our customers and our tenants. So, really, it’s a no brainer – as much as we can, we want to make sure that our community members end up happy with what we build.”
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