With the scaffolding gone, the new midnight-blue facade can be seen on the Old Strathcona Hotel on the corner of Whyte Avenue and 103rd Street, as developers prepare to reopen the historic building.
It’s the first full glimpse of the renovated exterior since refurbishing started last year.
The first tenant has signed up: The old pub space is set to reopen as Leopold’s Tavern this summer, said Chris Dulaba with Beljan Development.
The tavern owners, who run pubs in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Calgary and Regina, are refitting the space now.
Dulaba said the roof has been reconstructed after the fire last spring.
Now, the inside is exposed to its 1891 glory.
“You’re really looking at some probably first growth Douglas fir-type wood that’s petrified and really difficult to pound any type of nails in,” Dulaba said. “You become a little bit nostalgic in walking through it.”
Dulaba was at city hall Tuesday to get approval to rezone the property — Beljan wants to add a sub area to the basement to make it more useable for retailers.
At the beginning of a public hearing Tuesday, council approved the rezoning without debate.
Crews are now working on fire-rated stairwells and an atrium on the backside of the hotel, Dulaba said.
The rest of the building is being renovated into retail and office space.
Dulaba said the company is still negotiating with potential tenants to fill those spaces.
The developer consulted the City of Edmonton and the province throughout the renovations, to maintain the heritage status of the hotel, even on the colour of the exterior.
“From baby blue to fire-engine red to navy blue to charcoal,” Dulaba said. “We knew we wanted to take it away from the beige.”
He said it wasn’t until they tore down some walls during the construction that the hotel’s original colour was actually revealed as fire-engine red.
Last fall, council rejected the developer’s request for $460,000 to help with renovations, which were expected to be extensive. Dulaba said the city has agreed to work on a long-term funding strategy to help owners of historic buildings.