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Elmira
Sunday, September 15, 2019
YOUR COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER:

Renovations of Elmira’s Village Shoppes nearing completion

Developer ran into a long list of issues in repurposing a building set up for open retail use as Brox’s Olde Towne Village

The Village Shoppes is about three months away from being ready for tenants to move into its retail and office space currently undergoing extensive renovations in Elmira’s downtown.

Crews have been visible in and outside of the building for many months doing demolition and changing the building’s layout.

“We’ve taken out all of the walls. The problem with the building was that it was so many different levels,” said Gavin Fitzpatrick, vice-president of business development at The Kain Group, while on site on Monday.

Woolwich Total Health Pharmacy is the only business that stayed on when The Kain Group announced their plans for renovations last year. The pharmacy is moving to the front of the building, nearly doubling in size.

The building will include four spaces on the first floor, one being the pharmacy, and another four on the second floor. The spaces can be combined, though, to make larger offices.

Artist conceptual drawing of exterior of Village Shoppes building located at 10 Church St. W., Elmira

The plan is for the first floor to be retail and the second floor to be offices. There is no plan for the basement as of yet. The company considered making it residential, but decided against it.

“What we’re planning on is 1,000- to 1,500-square-foot spaces possibly, if people need more we can certainly do more. On the main floor, we have one space that could be 6,000-square feet.”

Fitzpatrick says the design was one of the biggest challenges because of the multiple levels in the building, as well as trying to envision how to best use the space. He expects tenants to be able to move in by April.

“It was built as a single retail building and that has implications with things like fire code, for example. You have to have a wall between separate businesses that takes a long time to burn. Getting the building to the point where you could divide it up, dividing it up changes your heating system, it changes your sprinklers, it changed everything.”

The next largest challenge was the scope of work and making sure that they made the building flexible, efficient, and hopefully appealing to the eye.

“The architect spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get the flow of the building right.”

Some businesses decided to set up shop elsewhere because of the rising cost of common area fees. They’ve changed the layout to decrease the common area and added energy efficiencies like new windows, better insulating and lighting to bring down heating and electricity costs as well.

“It turns out when we got into it, it was definitely time for us to be doing this.”

He says they’ve already had interest in the building and they could see offices on the second floor being used by a company looking for an open space outside of the city.

“We’re noticing some of the tech companies are interested in getting a bit out of town. There are lots of possibilities. We’re hoping to get some interest over the next few weeks.”

Plans for the exterior of the building call for a change of the colour palette, grey with charcoal grey trim and a copper stripe around the middle. He says they wanted to renovate the outside to fit in with the downtown and not stick out like a sore thumb, but also be recognizable.

“We’re trying to make sure that we build a building that’s going to be worth the effort we put into it. The whole thing was to make the building leasable and getting the levels sorted out was certainly a big part of that. Esthetics are obviously huge as well.”

They’ve taken off the balcony from the top floor of the front of the building which brings the building further back from the sidewalk, lending itself to a patio for a restaurant or coffee shop.

“What we’re trying to do is build a flexible space so that we have as many opportunities to do things with it that we can. We don’t want to close any doors on ourselves.”

Downtown location about three months away from re-opening.

Whitney Neilson
Whitney Neilsonhttp://www.observerxtra.com
Whitney Neilson is a photo journalist for The Observer.

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