The Alberta government will spend $356 million to renovate Edmonton's long-closed Federal Building  to provide new office space and underground parking for its employees.

The art deco building, built in the 1950s , sits on the north edge of the Alberta legislature grounds. It was home to federal employees in Edmonton until the opening of Canada Place, in the late 1980s, when the province got it in a land swap.

"Renovating the Federal Building is less expensive that demolishing it and constructing a new building of the same size," said Jack Hayden, Minister of Infrastructure Wednesday.


Edmonton's Federal Building, closed since 1989, will get $356 million worth of renovations, including a new underground parking lot, to house provincial employees. ((CBC))

"This project will also preserve a historically significant landmark and take an important first step in the rejuvenation of the legislature grounds for all Albertans and visitors to enjoy."

The new underground parking will be built between the Federal Building and the Bowker Building, one of several office buildings on the site.

The renovations are estimated to cost $200 million, the parkade another $156 million.

The work will also see existing surface parking lots removed and replaced by green space, which will provide a "welcoming and scenic approach to the grounds," the minister said.

The plan is more modest than one released in 2006 by the then minister of infrastructure Lyle Oberg. That project envisioned the replacement of two aging office buildings on the legislature grounds, along with work on the Federal Building and extensive renovations to the entire 25-hectare site.

The project was suspended when Oberg lost his cabinet seat.

The Alberta government is moving forward with creating a master plan for the legislature grounds, Hayden said, with details expected to be ready for public viewing within a year.

The work on the Federal Building is expected to take until the fall of 2011.