June 15, 2013 4:48 pm
Updated: June 15, 2013 8:41 pm

Store opening marks new beginning for 118th Avenue

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EDMONTON- Community members are celebrating a new beginning along 118th Avenue.

Shoppers Drug Mart hosted it’s grand opening at 81st Street and 118th Avenue Saturday morning. The drug store sits on the land formerly occupied by the old Cromdale Hotel.

“I think it sort of washes away a lot of the memories that many people have of that particular site,” said Tony Caterina, city councillor for the area.

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The Cromdale was demolished in August 2012, after sitting vacant for years. What was once one of Edmonton’s hot spots, rumoured to have been visited by Bob Hope, went downhill over the years and became an unsightly crime magnet.

“The Cromdale Hotel certainly was always a detriment to the area. They’ve sort of typified what the area was,” Caterina explained.

However, after nine years of hard work by the city and the community, the neighbourhood has undergone a dramatic change.

“This shows when you get a community and government committed to making change, that change can happen,” Mayor Stephen Mandel said at the ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday morning. “It’s taken time, but with time you can make a lot of change… We’ve got a great community down here.”

“We’ve had many empty doors, empty store fronts, which now are basically full,” added Caterina. “It’s a very, very vibrant neighbourhood.”

“We’ve seen the community commitment continue to grow,” said Chris Hayduk, president of Community Response to Urban Disorder, a non-profit organization that focuses on positive change in urban communities. “And you start to see it with owner-occupied homes, homes being renovated. The community is changing so much, it’s kind of almost hard to capture it.”

It hasn’t been easy, though. As with many revitalization projects, it took some time to get the ball rolling.

“Nobody wants to be the first on the dance floor. People were calling, but asking who else was ready to go. And until we had things like Shoppers, or Safeway across the street in that complex, and many, many others now coming forward, it makes it much easier to tell others that it is actually happening here and you should come today,” Caterina explained.

And the hard work isn’t over. This is just another step in the overall picture of bringing the Cromdale and Alberta Avenue areas back to what they once were.

“There’s always more that needs to be done. I don’t think you stop. There’s always challenges, you can’t live on you laurels, you have to continue,” Mandel said.

“This end of the avenue was kind of neglected a bit from the revitalization. Because of the hotel being here, there didn’t seem to be a lot of investment in the area. Now I think it’s an opportunity for new investment. We’re seeing new facades going up on buildings across the street and along this area. I think it’s going to signal a big change in this part of the community.”

“Things look very, very good for that entire area,” Caterina said. “Many people have confidence that they can do business here and it’s a place they want to be. And we expect many others to follow suit.”

With files from Shannon Greer, Global News.

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