Years overdue and $50 million over budget, the public is finally getting a look inside the newly-renovated Federal Building.
The building, once home the controversial 'skypalace' penthouse planned for former premier Alison Redford, will house offices for MLAs and Alberta government staff.
Last year, CBC first revealed a luxury penthouse was being constructed on the 11th floor for former Premier Alison Redford and her teenage daughter. The government soon canned the penthouse, but renovations continued.
“The people own this. And we may work here, the government may work here. But the people deserve to be able to use this space as much as possible,” said infrastructure minister Manmeet Bhullar.
The project to renovate the art-deco building, which has been vacant since 1989, was originally scheduled to cost $356 million. Renovations were supposed to be completed by 2012, but as time dragged on, the final price tag increased to $403 million, according to Bhullar.
At a time when Alberta is expecting a massive drop in oil revenues, Bhullar said the current government would not have OK'd the expensive renovation. But since the Federal Building was so close to being completed when Premier Jim Prentice took over, the minister said the smartest move was to finish the project with as few wasted dollars as possible.
“We would not have made this decision,” he said. "I will not spend one new nickel of good money chasing bad dollars. It's that simple."
The building will contain office space for 600 MLAs and government workers, who will move in over the next couple months. Bhullar said the move will allow the government to shift some of its office space around and cut down on the costs of leased space. He said the province spends $140 million annually leasing office space in Edmonton.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the government secretly spiked a public rink planned for a plaza next door to the building two years ago. However, the $832,000 garage for the defunct rink's Zamboni machine was still built.
Bhullar said the premier has committed to finding a way to build the public ice rink without spending tax dollars or selling off naming rights.
The newly-renovated Federal Building will also house theatre spaces and an art gallery.