The long-vacant Kootenay Hotel, which operated most recently as the Bigfoot Pub and Grill, is about to be resurrected.
Building contractor Ralph Casemore purchased the building and adjacent parking lot from the Calgary owner last month and is now developing plans to create a multi-use property on Canyon Street.
“This is mostly about revitalizing the downtown core,” Casemore said last week.
His partner, Tanya Wall, said the development will involve other business operators in the Creston Valley.
“We have an idea of what we want to do with the building,” she said. “Our hopes and dreams are to build community partnerships, both by using local products and suppliers in construction, and eventually in the business itself.”
Casemore said he and Wall had looked at the building, which has sat empty for about eight years.
“We learned that it was for sale and there were other interested parties, but nothing firm,” he said.
He made an offer and received a counteroffer, but his interest was contingent on having a hazardous materials analysis.
Western Canada Safety Services Ltd. conducted an inspection, taking 51 samples, and produced a 37-page report.
“It wasn’t as bad as we thought,” Casemore said.
Once he had quotes on the cost of abatement, he renegotiated the price and made the purchase.
“We are well aware of all of the risks, and of all the work that needs to be done,” he said. “We are now working with an architect to create conceptual drawings.”
The interior of the two-storey building is a plan in progress. A wine bar/lounge is planned for the top floor, as is an artisans’ display and sales area. The main floor will contain some form of food and beverage service. Casemore is more certain about how the building will eventually look.
“Red brick,” he smiled. “That is not negotiable. I have always wanted to see a red brick building downtown — Fernie and Nelson have them, but we don’t. It will be red brick with granite trim.”
A bricklayer by trade, he estimates the exterior brick and trim work alone will take as much as three months. He said some interior walls will be brick, also.
Casemore is approaching the development as a two-year project.
“But we will start by cleaning up the parking lot and offering spaces for rent,” he said. “Then we will begin to remove some of exterior add-ons at the rear and paint over the graffiti to clean it up a bit.”
Inspiration for the project, Wall said, has come from visits to other communities. On a visit to Oregon they saw a business model that was easy to envision for the old hotel. And in Sandpoint, the Pend d’Oreille Winery and Bistro Rouge Restaurant fired their imagination, as did some wine bars and lounges in Coeur d’Alene.
Wall said the community is ripe for new development. Now the Regional District of Central Kootenay Area B director, she keeps close tabs on activity throughout the Creston Valley.
“I took part in the business walk last month and it was so encouraging. There were great, positive vibes,” she said. “And with co-operation between the Town of Creston and RDCK districts, we have a theme of growing together.”
With cleanup scheduled for the summer and fall, Casemore said he expects construction to begin this fall. He is clearly excited by the prospect of creating a dramatic change to the downtown core.
“I think it will encourage other businesses to invest and make changes. The prospects are really positive here.”
He and Wall are adamant that the development is more than just a business investment.
“This community has supported us in so many ways,” Wall said. “We believe that this project will have a positive effect on the downtown core.”