Edmonton developer wants to bring life back to east Jasper Avenue area with purchase of Brighton Block

Click to play video: 'Future looks bright for historic building in Edmonton'
Future looks bright for historic building in Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: The future appears to be bright for a historic building in Alberta's capital. Over the years it's been a lot of different things from a photography studio to a rooming house. Vinesh Pratap has more on its past and present – Jan 6, 2017

Those who have been on the east end of Jasper Avenue recently have seen a building covered in shrink wrap.

If you have good knowledge of Edmonton, you’ll know that what’s underneath the wrap is part of the city’s history. It’s the old Brighton Block which has been around for more than 100 years.

The Ukrainian Canadian Archives and Museum of Alberta is selling the property to local developer Ken Cantor and his company, PRIMAVERA Development Group.

Cantor has promised to bring renewal to the building and life back to the quiet area of Jasper Avenue, helping with The Quarters redevelopment efforts.

“It’s been a wonderful part the street edge and urban edge on Jasper Avenue for a long time and we’re looking forward to bringing it back to that sort of prominence,” Cantor said.

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Although the building is listed as a municipal historic resource, Cantor said he won’t be seeking public funding for the restoration and renewal efforts.

“It’s the exterior of the building that has the heritage designation, so that’s basically all four exterior walls,” Cantor explained.

“We’ll be looking at the small addition at the top, probably a fourth and maybe a fifth floor. It’s been set back from the street so you won’t see it from the street.”

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Cantor said the restoration plan will support the historic designation.

The interior of the Brighton Block won’t be salvaged, so everything on the inside will be replaced.

PRIMAVERA Development Group, Credit
PRIMAVERA Development Group, Credit
PRIMAVERA Development Group, Credit

The local developer calls the project one he’s truly passionate about.

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“As a city, I think Edmonton has done a terrible job in the past. We’ve typically left our older buildings to decline and at that point it’s very difficult to keep them part of the fabric,” Cantor said.

“You can’t replace them. You can’t bring them up to modern standards once they’ve been let go, so hopefully this will be a small step in the other direction.”

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The building was constructed between 1911 and 1913 by photographer Ernest Brown as an Edwardian-era combination commercial and residential building. It started as a photography studio and workshop, and has had many uses since, including a rooming house.

There were plans for redevelopment several years ago, but those plans fell apart.

Cantor said there will be more projects starting up in the area.

“One of the big things you’ll start seeing is this part of the city taking advantage of no longer being under the main runway approach for the airport.”

Cantor wants to start on the project this summer and hopes for completion in 2018.

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