The Simmons Building, a.k.a. the Simmons Factory Warehouse, was built in 1912. The two-storey brick structure sits on the bank of the Bow River in front of the RiverWalk Plaza.
The heritage building is best known for its long association with Simmons Canada – a national bedding manufacturer. During World War II, the building’s sole purpose was to provide bedding for the military. One of the last remaining buildings of its kind in this part of the city, the Simmons commemorates the light industry that once thrived in downtown Calgary.
Featuring standard post-and-beam construction with brick exterior walls, the Simmons Building’s 12-inch square fir posts, short-span beams and mill floors provided maximum support for heavy machinery and stacks of mattresses.
In 2008, CMLC refurbished the Simmons Building, repairing windows and mechanical systems, removing years of contaminated paint and materials, refinishing flooring and installing new fire protection systems and doors. While CMLC set up shop in the Simmons Building in 2007, the building was envisioned to become an important community commercial space along RiverWalk. In May 2011, CMLC issued a national call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from groups interested in leasing the historic building; and in April 2012, CMLC relocated to the newly restored Hillier Block to make way for the Simmons Building’s future tenants.
The first step: careful restorations that bring The Simmons up to 21st-century spec while preserving as many historical elements as possible. These elements include 35 solid fir pillars on each floor; some of the brick inside and outside, which needs to be repointed; 22 metal radiators (13 on the main floor and nine upstairs), which will be scraped and returned to their original finish; 18 main floor window frames that need to be replaced with equally expressive modern counterparts; the addition of two more stairways and an elevator; and the preservation of The Simmons’ metal barn doors as objets d’art.
In July 2013, CMLC announced the selection of a consortium of tenants who will activate the building into a dynamic culinary hub for all Calgarians to enjoy. Following an Expression of Interest campaign to identify future tenants, four of the city's most charismatic young entrepreneurs to re-activate the space. Phil Robertson and Sebastian Sztabzyb of Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, Aviv Fried of Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and the co-founders of Charcut - have come together to convert the former matress building into a beautiful new public gathering space along the Bow River. The improvements to the Simmons building to ready the building have now begun and it is expected the building will re-open in 2015.