Hoarding has been erected and an excavator spotted at Whyte Avenue and 105th Street NW, where Wexford Developments' six-storey Raymond Block project will soon take shape. The once-contaminated lot, home to an Esso gas station until 1998, has been fenced off for years, becoming a blight on the landscape that the community has been eager to get rid of. The Old Strathcona Business Association had heard resident complaints about dirt blowing in the summer and the unsightly fencing surrounding the property. But the site will look substantially different in the near future, with a handsome DIALOG-designed building putting those concerns to rest.

A rendering of Raymond Block, image via Wexford Developments

The development embraces a mixed-use program of retail, office space, and luxury rental apartments. The project's marketed name isn't just a trendy epithet — it has roots in the history of the site. The building pays homage to the original Raymond Hotel that stood on the property in the early 1900s, while similarly respecting the brick and stone vernacular of the neighbourhood. 

The site as it appeared in February 2016, image by Forum contributor Daveography

Calgary-based Wexford Developments purchased the lot in 2014 after nearly 20 years were spent on environmental remediation. The vision they have established includes a two-storey podium housing up to 30,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and office space, all topped by 96 residences spread across four levels. It will offer upscale bachelor, one-, and two-bedroom apartments close to the University of Alberta and public transit.

The building recounts the architectural language of its neighbours, image via Wexford Developments

In early February, Forum contributor westcoastjos stated that excavation for the below-grade vehicular and bicycle parking level would likely begin in March. That aligns with the activity that has been surveyed at the site so far, indicating that the property's days as a barren dirt patch may finally be numbered.

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