January 18, 2019 8:34 pm
Updated: January 18, 2019 9:23 pm

Old building, new life: New chapter for Strathcona Hotel building in Edmonton

WATCH ABOVE: A local developer is stepping up to bring new life to an instantly recognizable building in Edmonton's Old Strathcona that's nearly 130 years old. Vinesh Pratap reports.

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For nearly 130 years, the Strathcona Hotel building has stood as a cornerstone of Whyte Avenue.

It recently closed and was sold to an Edmonton developer. Ivan Beljan with Beljan Development gave Global News a tour of the historic structure and spoke about plans for renewal for what he calls a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Vinesh Pratap: Now it’s getting a new lease on life, so take us through with what’s going on?

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Ivan Beljan: We’re going to be renovating the whole building from top to bottom and converting it into a more restaurant/retail experience on all three floors. And it will be all internalized through a big atrium space that all tenants will connect into.

We’ve had our eye on this for a long time. These are once-in-a-generation assets that you have the opportunity to work on.

There’s certain restrictions with it being a heritage building. For the most part, the outside has to remain as is. But the inside is the part we felt we could add our own touch to and make it more relevant to today’s market.

READ MORE: Edmonton city council approves developer’s plan to build towers on 99 Street in Old Strathcona

VP: Do you feel the pressure to get it right?

IB: It’s a big undertaking, no doubt, and it’s an old building and these are not easy things to endeavor with. We’re fortunate to have a really good team of people that we work with.

I think in the course of our history, when we do the right things, the right results usually end up. I have faith that will work out here as well.

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VP: Because of its historic designation, are you going to apply for some provincial or city funding?

IB: That’s part of the process — is try to get some help from the province and the city. The big things that we’re doing here… we’re adding an elevator. The building is not fire rated at all, it does not have sprinklers, so we’re going to be adding that to the building. That’s where we could use some support from the city.

VP: How does it make you feel that you are making history by preserving history?

IB: I’m not thinking about that so much. For me, it’s about improving our city project by project. And I think this one has a real chance to change this whole block. And we’re going to do our best.

When the building changed hands, there was some apprehension from some local historians.

READ MORE: Historical Sylvancroft Mansion falling apart and could be demolished 

Dan Rose with the Edmonton Heritage Council is “really happy to see someone with a bit of creative vision and a bit of appreciation for heritage has taken up the opportunity and the challenge to restore and find a new future for this building.”

The building, which dates back to 1891, is now called The Strathcona.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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