Branch 264 of the Royal Canadian Legion has a new home — right down the street from its old digs on Kensington Road in northwest Calgary.
The new four-storey building includes a main floor restaurant, members' lounge and two floors of commercial space for lease.
Legion treasurer Mark Barham says old building, which was built in 1956, holds many memories, but it was falling apart. The new design will generate three revenue streams for the branch, which is the way of the future.
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"Legions across the country are sitting on property, so in essence, they are asset rich but cash flow poor because of declining membership," he said.
"There is an opportunity to possibly repeat what we've done here in other locations across the country."
Construction of the new building was a six-year process for the legion, which went through several developers before finally being paired Truman Development Corporation. The company agreed to the project in exchange for land at the site.
The developer plans to build an additional multi-storey building with retail space on the bottom floor and residential suites above.
Coun. Druh Farrell says members of the legion knew how critical the project was — facing a choice to either close the legion or find a sustainable model.
The new legion faced some opposition from neighbours, who took issue with the building's height.
"We worked very hard with the community, not everybody was happy, that's for sure, but we worked very hard to make sure it fits into the neighbourhood," she said.
"I think at the end of the day, it's going to be an extraordinary building that will make the neighbourhood stronger."
Barham says the new building will also allow the legion to give back to the neighbourhood and other organizations.
"What we will be doing here specifically is the public access space, the 1918 Tap and Table, that will generate, of course, some profit. We intend on take that profit and kicking it back into the community," he said.
The legion owns the new $18-million West Hillhurst facility outright.