When Greg Haydu and a group of business partners purchased the old Nelson Daily News building in May 2011, the 266 Baker Street property was no longer a proud pillar of the downtown streetscape.
“It was in an absolute state of disrepair,” says Haydu. “When we had the building appraised, the appraiser was of the opinion that the land was worth more without the building than it was with the building.”
After more than a year of toil, last month new life began to creep back into the brick shell that has stood at the east end of the downtown for more than a century. With the arrival of its first tenant — the law firm of Pearkes and Fernandez — the building is back in business.
“It never crossed our minds to knock the building down and start again,” says Haydu “This building has been here for 100 years, and it is an interesting and beautiful old building. We think we are doing it a service by the level of finishing that is going into it.”
The sub trades are still buzzing inside and outside the building, but Haydu and his partners are now in a position to fill the cavernous spaces.
One main floor space has been leased to The Chop Shop — a Vancouver-based hair salon that brings a rock ‘n’ roll feel to the business of hair care. There are still four other major spaces up for grabs and Haydu says they are entertaining all sorts of ideas.
“If there is a need for something, we are definitely willing to work with people,” he says.
“From the owner’s perspective we need to get this building tenanted and going so that we can complete the rest of this project. We really do believe that this is a building and a project that this town can take pride in.”
The second phase of the project includes a housing component. Still in the concept phase, once there is more security with tenants in the rest of the building, condos will be built on the roof.
One of the aspects of the project Haydu and his partners (who include three other investors) are most proud of is the attention to detail and use of local contractors. An example is the desks in the law office — where Haydu also works — that are made from recycled wood found in the guts of the old building.
“We are trying to maintain the historic character of the building, plus the wood was in great shape,” Haydu says.
If you are interested in taking a look at the space available for lease call realtor Paul Lamoureux at 250-352-3581.