Work on the CP Rail building at the foot of Baker Street is charging ahead quicker than initially anticipated.
When the Nelson Chamber of Commerce took ownership of the heritage building two years ago, directors accepted that it could take more than a decade to repair the deteriorated building. They hadn’t anticipated the project would become such a magnet for grant funding as a job creation project.
“We’ve been able to get crews working there pretty consistently since we took ownership,” Chamber executive director Tom Thomson said, rattling off a list of work that’s already complete.
The major structural work is done — the rotted roof and foundation have both been replaced. Inside, new washrooms are complete, though the water hasn’t been turned on yet. Walls have come down to create a new central foyer. A hazardous material team came through last summer to remove any remaining asbestos laden materials.
Currently a four person crew and supervisor are preparing the walls to install double thermal insulation, which will reduce the eventual cost of heating and cooling the building. Once the insulation is in, the walls will be covered with plaster to give them a heritage look.
“Definitely the requirement to keep with the heritage style adds to the cost and time we need to put into this project,” said Thomson, estimating about $950,000 has been invested in the building to date.
Another $1.9 million is still needed to get the building ready to occupy. But the Chamber is at a point that, if a few key grants come through, it could finance the rest of the project and have it done in 18 months.
“Initially the feeling among the board was that we should just chip away at this, and if it takes 15 years to complete, that’s okay,” Thomson said. “But now, with how well things are going, the will has shifted somewhat. We’re starting to think if we can get it done, let’s do it sooner rather than later.”
Ultimately it will be up to the board of directors to decide if they want to go the quick route with financing or keep plugging away with grant funding.
“We’re at a crossroads, essentially,” Thomson said.
On Friday, the Chamber is hosting its monthly business networking event in the CP Rail station to give members a chance to get a look inside and see all the work that’s been done. It will be the first event the Chamber has hosted in the building.
“I’m looking forward to showing people what we’ve been doing,” Thomson said.
When the renovations are complete, the 11,000 square foot station house will serve as a regional visitor gateway and business opportunity centre, with offices for the Chamber, Kootenay Lake Tourism and Invest Kootenay in one half, and commercial businesses or other suitable partners operating in the other half.