Crazy like a Fox

Developer makes his mark in downtown Edmonton

Crazy like a Fox: Developer makes his mark in downtown Edmonton

Crazy like a Fox: Developer makes his mark in downtown Edmonton


EDMONTON – “I just love it here,” says Reza Mostashari, president of Langham Developments. “I really have an affection for Edmonton. If you do something here, it will have a noticeable impact. It can make noticeable difference to the life of the city. In New York and Los Angeles, you can do a nice project there, but you can’t have an influence on the character of the city.”

Nine years ago, Mostashari announced plans to build the twin Icon Towers on 104th Street, on empty lots just north of the derelict old Cecil Hotel. It was, at the time, the biggest, tallest residential project the downtown core had seen. And people thought the young hotshot was just a little bit crazy.

Today, almost a decade later, 104th Street, north of Jasper Avenue, is an Edmonton showpiece. The old warehouse district is home to upscale restaurants, cafes, bars and boutiques, a sublime bakery and an acclaimed farmers’ market. With its mix of heritage architecture and new pedestrian-friendly urban design, it’s become the downtown’s most charming streetscape. The Icon Towers, and the shops and cafes in their building pedestal, are a huge part of that revitalization.

Now, Mostashari is finishing what he started.

For years, the most problematic property on 104th was the five-lot, 3,500-square-metre parcel on the northwest corner of 104th Street and 102nd Avenue. Once the site of the old Greyhound bus garage, the soil was so polluted with spilled diesel fuel that no one wanted to touch it. The remediation costs were deemed an economic impossibility — until two years ago, when Mostashari bought the site and started the massive reclamation work.

Today, construction is well underway on the first tower of The Fox, a new 142-unit, 28-storey highrise condo, right on the site of the former bus barns.

The building is almost completely sold out. And so this month, pre-sales begin for the Fox Tower Two. The companion tower will be Mostashari’s most ambitious yet: 172 units and 33 storeys, topped with huge glass penthouses.

“Now, this is not crazy. It’s really changed,” he says. “There’s a whole feeling of optimism and revival.”

Back in 2005, when he first started pre-selling suites in the Icon, he says, many of his first buyers were investors, who bought their units as income rental properties. Today, he says, his market is much different. People, all kinds of people, want to live on hip 104th Street The arena project hasn’t hurt, he says, but he’s not sure it’s had much impact on sales.

“Obviously it helps, but 104th Street has enough cachet to pull people with it.”

Mostashari says he’s added significantly more 1,500-square-foot (140-square-metre) three-bed units, with dens, designed for families. New Canadians, who’ve moved to Edmonton from more urban, densely populated cities, he says, are keen on the idea of raising families in a downtown neighbourhood.

“In other countries, it’s normal for people to grow up in apartments. And 104th Street is the one few part of downtown Edmonton that has a neighbourhood feel to it. It’s a residential neighbourhood of its own.”

The Fox will be more than residential condos, however. The two towers include several floors of office space. And the towers will sit atop a brick pedestal that’s designed to blend with the heritage street below.

“It’s key to get good tenants for the main floor,” says Mostashari. He’s hoping to attract an eclectic mix of retailers and restaurants, to blend with the vibe of the street. That’s especially important, since the pedestal will occupy the whole corner, with the potential to pull the energy of the shopping district around the bend, and west along 102nd Avenue.

So many condo projects are announced in this city, and never built. Others get started, and then stall. But so far, at least, Mostashari has been able to deliver what he’s promised, no matter how wild optimistic he’s sounded. If he can pull it off again this time, he really will have made a lasting, visionary mark on the shape and character of downtown Edmonton.

“A city this size, with this level of prosperity? We need to have a successful downtown,” he says. “There’s this whole positive feeling that Edmonton has to be more urban, that it has to look better. If you want to retain interesting people, you can’t just have suburbia.”

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Source: Edmonton Journal,, Paula Simons is on Facebook. To join the conversation, go to or visit her blog at