In downtown Calgary one of every three offices is empty. Yet, Aspen Properties has rented out three floors of an office building at its Calgary Tower Centre to vertical farm startup Agriplay Ventures Inc.
”The only reason Agriplay was able to use the space in our office building,” says Aspen's CEO, Rob Blackwell, “is because they are not nearly as power-intensive as other vertical farms. From what I understand, they use just a little more power than a high-density office user.”
Invest Alberta has signed a memorandum of understanding with Agriplay Ventures to connect the company with agri-investors. In the meantime, Agriplay’s subsidiary, Agriplay Farms, is negotiating offers on more than one million square feet of office space in Calgary, as well as 300,000 square feet of office space in Edmonton.
Agriplay’s cloud-connected technology costs about $800,000 for every 10,000 square per foot of vertical farm. Based on the company website’s revenue calculator, 10,000 square feet of tomatoes at a wholesale price (determined by Mr. Houston as 65 percent of Walmart’s retail price) of $5.20 per pound, could gross annual revenue of $4.7-million; strawberries, at a wholesale price of $3.90 per pound, could reap $3.5-million. The calculator indicates energy would cost $2,400 per month. Mr. Houston says, given three full-time employees would be required to run a 10,000-square-foot farm, the operating profit margin would be approximately 22 percent.
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