Designed by architect Thomas Loh, a new building is under construction at the interception of Victoria and Josephine following a major fire in June. The new location will have room for two ground level businesses, and three live/work studios upstairs, two occupied by returning tenants Divine Alchemy Tattoos and Tarynn Lloyd’s pottery studio. Illustration submitted

BUSINESS BUZZ: Rising from the ashes, city eyes up to $200M in projects

Darren Davidson’s monthly column about business in Nelson

By Darren Davidson

Restoration work at the corner of Victoria and Josephine is well underway following one of the city’s biggest business fires in years.

In June, Divine Alchemy Tattoos, Tarynn Lloyd’s pottery studio, Busaba Thai Cafe and Aldo’s Cleaners were forced to close due to the fire and extensive water damage. Valet Restorations tackled the clean up. Architect Thomas Loh designed the new building. It’ll house two spacious ground floor venues for either retail or commercial tenants, and upstairs, three live/work studios. The rebuild is being done by Cornerstone General Contracting. The tattoo and pottery studios are returning. Busaba has set up shop in the Savoy Building at the corner of Baker and Falls. Aldo’s future is undecided at this point. There’ll be a pair of new retail/business units and a live/work space available for rent in the new year.

***

Economic stimulus is a pillar to recovery from the global pandemic. All levels of government have rolled out programs aimed at getting people back to work, by jump-starting shovel-ready projects of all sorts. Speaking on Kootenay Co-Op Radio’s Kootenay Morning Show last week, Mayor John Dooley shed some light on the nearly $200 million dollars in potential projects the city may benefit from in the next few years.

Those include: a six-storey building housing a new 17,000 square-foot library and 32-unit residential development in front of City Hall; housing units atop the Nelson and District Youth Centre; big plans at the Civic Theatre (for which funding has already been secured); a beautiful reconstruction of the Hall Street Pier and promenade plus substantial sewer/water upgrades — the pier is at the end of its lifespan; the pending Mount St. Francis tear down and new Nelson Health Campus is showing huge progress and promise; and the big one — a new Kootenay Lake Ferry, for which there’s already $55 million in the coffers from Ottawa and Victoria.

***

Speaking of stimulus. Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism has received 60 of 160 stakeholder surveys on summer tourism and the news is quite a surprise, according to NKL’s Dianna Ducs. Accommodators saw between 75 and 100 per cent occupancy. Some accommodators are in fact seeing record breaking numbers. We’ll see what fall and winter hold…

***

A terrific heritage renovation is done, and a new chapter has begun, at the corner of Baker and Kootenay. Pauline and Mary Bowcock, who own the building, believe the structure has been there since 1899.

Pauline and her husband Walter bought the property in 1966, and started Norm’s Sports Centre there. At one point Norm’s had two floors of inventory, everything from horse saddles to scuba gear to skis. Mary and her sister Anna ran the store until 1985, after Walter passed away. Today the building is home to Dr. Osepchook Dental Clinic and Abacus Beads, C. Comishin and Associates Accounting and the headquarters for Kebbek Skateboards, founded by Ian Comishin.

The renovation was handled by Cornerstone too, as well as Valor Painting and Kootenay Lake Electric.

***

According to Forbes magazine, pre-pandemic, the online education market was estimated to be worth $350 billion by 2025. A Nelson tech start up specializing in on-line kids learning is aboard what’s sure to be a further wave of investment due to the implications of COVID on the industry.

Called LIVE IT, the company, co-founded by Mike Irvine and Melissa Welsh, has bolstered its staff by four new employees.

“We want to address COVID-related on-line resources shortage at back-to-school time,” says Irvine, “and this is a made-in-B.C. solution.”

Irvine is no stranger to inspiring efforts. Five years ago, he defended his University of Victoria masters thesis underwater. The endeavour landed him coverage on the National Geographic and Discovery channels.

There are a couple of businesses on the move… Reo’s — yes, Reo’s Movie Emporium — is staying in business, even in this day of Netflix and HBO everything. The beloved movie rental venue is moving into the Civic Theatre.

After the building Reo’s was in was sold, it appeared the curtain may have been closing on the shop. But owner Cole Johnstone and the folks at the Civic found a way to make a new business model work. With a whopping 18,000 titles, the merger will save and steward central B.C’s largest film library. Watch for an October opening.

***

Rob and Michelle Stojanowski have packed up the ROAM tent and moved from Baker to 405 Hall St., a tighter, new, spanky-er space. The move bolsters the Stores-To-Shores connector concept the city and business sector have had in mind for Hall. ROAM had been on Baker for 17 years.

Play It Again Kids, in operation since 2002, has moved into a bright and brand new space at 458 Ward St.

Korina and Andrew Rennie bought the business in June 2013 when it was at the east end of Baker Street, expanding inventory then jumping to 441 Baker St. in 2018. Now they’ve settled on a bit smaller space.

“What appealed to us most about the business is its truly sustainable nature,” says Andrew. “There are so many children’s items in circulation, and because kids grow so quickly, items are often discarded before their time. Buy used is a way to fight the fast fashion cycle and all the problems that come along with that.”

Inventory includes products from local mom-makers, eco toys and gently used or new consignors products.

On a more concerning note: the Play It Again Kids location was one of literally dozens of Nelson locations recently spray-painted and vandalized in the middle of the night in the past few weeks.

A question: At what point does a city install security cameras at some of its high traffic locations to help curb crime and senseless property damage? We’ll leave that one open for discussion.

Business

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