Friday, June 16, 2023

From Boarded up derelict building, to newest centrepiece for Prince Rupert waterfront! Former CN station rises as new home for Wheelhouse Brewing Company

The metamorphosis of one of the iconic historical structures from the Prince Rupert waterfront began with word of a potential funding opportunity back in February of 2017 and just over six years later the old CNR station at Rotary Waterfront park has once again welcomed people through its doors, this time as a new entertainment and beverage house.

From that first inkling of what could come, the plans for rehabilitation of the abandoned structure which had been the subject of many suggested uses in years previous, moved forward. 

With the design phase for the structure introduced in December of 2019, the location now part of a larger vision for Rupert's Landing.

From that point on the waterfront project became part of the annual review of some of the city's larger ambitions for community rejuvenation; the site itself put out for potential tenants in the fall of 2020, with the City proposing its leasing plans with the Wheelhouse Brewing Company in August of 2021.

Concept drawings for the CNR station on the waterfront from 2021

The real buzz for what could  be on the waterfront came that same month with a presentation to Council from Charlie Maddison of the architectural firm Boni-Maddison, the mix of the historic past use and the vision for the future creating much enthusiasm for City Council and significant interest for the community at large. 

From there, the work would get underway, the new project the centre piece of a number of public presentations from Former Mayor Lee Brain during his final term of office.  

The progress of the plans coming from Council updates from the Operations Manger as well as through the updates of what had become the Prince Rupert 2030 Vision plan.  

The subsequent reviews of how it was all going something we tracked form our Archive page under the Rupert's Landing entries

The Historic CNR station 2017

A New Look and a new tenant in 2023

The much anticipated debut day arrived on Thursday, with the Wheelhouse Brewing company opening the doors for business at their new home at 1PM, the event marked by Tourism Prince Rupert who had someone on hand to record the first of the patrons taking in the atmosphere and some of the product that the hosts have to offer.

Mayor Pond providing for a relay of the Tourism Prince Rupert note with one of his own

And from all accounts, opening day went well for the owners and their staff, a short message at the end of the shift saluting those who dropped in for a visit.

For the new venture on the waterfront, the kick off of Thursday will only be the start of a summer of hard work and welcomes, the first big test to come this Saturday as they host what is one of the feature events for Pride participants in Prince Rupert this month.

The change in location will also require some helpful guidance for the volume of Cruise Ship visitors who come to town, who in past years spotted the popular beverage hall as soon as they got off the boat.

That location served up its last tap of a keg on Victoria Day, making for last call at the site at the top of the hill from the Atlin Terminal.

The Wheelhouse owners and  staff will have to find a way to nudge those visitors to turn right instead of left from now on when they cross over the walkway to the Prince Rupert Cruise Terminal.

As residents were reminded of by Councillor Wade Niesh on Monday, the building is still one in the city's hands, which makes the city's residents the owners of the new showcase.

That  should also suggest, that we should be getting at least one more update from Operations Manager Richard Pucci towards the now completed project. 

With those residents who have followed the project,  probably looking for some details towards the final cost, along with if there were any required changes to the original plans towards their investment. 

As well, if there were a any cost over runs and how those may have been addressed if required.

The Wheelhouse had proven to be a popular gathering spot right from its opening days at its old location. 

The new digs, are impressive and they should find that their new location will serve to bring their loyal clientele with them to the waterfront. 

And no doubt the waterfront attraction will also bring them some new customers as they move forward in their new home. You can follow the owners and staff on their journey through their social media stream.

More notes on the City's commercial sector can be reviewed here.

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