There is finally progress in the vacant lot that has scarred the Mission district in southwest Calgary for more than a decade. Referred to by some as Mission’s “hole in the soul,” the long-awaited commercial development at the corner of 4 St. and 20 Ave. S.W. moved one step closer to completion recently.

With a ceremony celebrating the final pouring of concrete on the site, the last major milestone has been cleared before the six-storey, 140,000 square-foot building is fully unveiled in late spring, 2013. The site has sat dormant since 2001, when five businesses on the location were leveled to make way for a condo development. Since then, the site has been the source of much controversy, even prompting a new bill in the Alberta Legislature giving municipalities increased authority to demand improvement of construction sites.

Ward 8 Alderman John Mar, whose Ward includes the Cliff-Bungalow and Mission neighbourhood, was one of those on hand for the ceremony, and commented on the importance of the project.

“This is a major milestone for the most significant commercial project in Mission. We have been working diligently to complete this for some time through one of the most significant economic downturns in recent memory,” said Mar. “I believe the progress that we’ve witnessed through the commitment of City Administration, City Council and Strategic Group will ensure that Calgary’s inner city continues to grow in a way that is mutually beneficial to residents, families and businesses.”

Once completed, the project – which is owned and being developed by Strategic Group – will include five floors of environmentally compliant and technologically advanced office space, more than 20,000 square feet of retail, a restaurant and over 300 underground parking stalls.

“Strategic Group is excited to have the opportunity to play a key role in helping to shape the Mission community with the development of this important project,” said Riaz Mamdani, CEO of Strategic Group, owner and developer of the project. “Reaching this stage in construction demonstrates our commitment to being a part of a development solution for the community of Mission.”

Strategic Group, one of the largest private owners and developers of commercial real estate in Alberta, acquired the land from a previous developer in 2006 after the original project failed to go ahead. Strategic Group set about creating a new vision for the complex which includes wide, pedestrian friendly walkways, patios and rooftop gardens that will serve as gathering places for tenants, visitors and shoppers.

“This project is the culmination of years of hard work and consultation with the community to ensure it benefits the diverse interests and demographics in the area. It is a combination of classic and modern design styles that will complement the distinct, eclectic style of the Mission community,” said Mamdani.

The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show commercial activity rose across the province in September, with the total value of building permits increasing 7.8 per cent over last year to a total of $1.1 billion.