Shambhala has purchase of the old Savoy Inn on Baker Street.

Shambhala Music Festival buys former Savoy Inn

Empty for five years, the remodeled Savoy on Baker Street will bring a vibrant addition to downtown Nelson.

Shambhala Music Festival has purchased the former Savoy Inn, which it plans to restore and reopen in 2014.

Shambhala executive producer Corrine Zawaduk hopes to see the fire damaged building restored to its former glory with hostel-style accommodations upstairs, a smaller restaurant on the Baker Street frontage and a 300-person capacity nightclub on the main floor, and a lounge area and recording studio in the basement.

“People say, ‘Shambhala: in your heart 365 days of the year’ and now we’ll actually be able to offer a little taste of the festival all 365 days,” Zawaduk said.

The Savoy building has been mostly or entirely vacant since a fire in the Mazatlan restaurant in November 2007. The interior has been completely gutted — there’s no heating, plumbing or electrical systems in the building, just bare floor boards.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Zawaduk said, noting that none of the ideas for the building are set in stone.

She’s excited to see the building restored, in part because of her fond memories of the Avalon nightclub that used to be there and the role it played the early days of the Shambhala Music Festival.

“It’s basically our roots. A lot of people that were part of the nightclub scene helped foster Shambhala,” Zawaduk said. “We used to have our meetings in the basement there, before we ever had an office space.”

She expects the restored building, which has yet to be given a new name, will be a destination for travelling musicians, artists and performers, as well as their fans.

“A lot of our friends are big name DJs who play in Vancouver and Kelowna and Calgary and if they want to stop by Nelson now they’ll have a place they can stay and hang out with the Shambhala crew,” Zawaduk said.

The former Savoy Inn is located in the 100 block of Baker Street at the corner of Falls Street.

Mayor John Dooley said he’s looking forward to seeing a development proposal for the site.

“The proposed redevelopment for the building … will be key to rejuvenating lower Baker and the Railtown district,” he said.

Shambhala will run the whole building itself, rather than leasing out portions of it, and expects to employ 50 people year-round.

Shambhala Music Festival is looking forward to its 16th year at Salmo River Ranch in the second week of August. The festival has long been committed to giving back to the neighbouring communities that support it.

In 2011 Selkirk College in Nelson benefitted from a $75,000 infusion from the festival for the renovation of its performance hall, which now bears the Shambhala name.

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