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Family-owned heritage building renovation on the right track
Elizabeth Mears’ grandfather contracted to purchase the iconic theatre building in 1956, and now Mears is heading one of its biggest renovations.
Council approved construction on the Oak Bay Avenue heritage theatre building on June 9, and the permit started on June 16.
“The goal is to have everything done and perfect for the Oak Bay light up in November,” said Mears, general manager of Oak Bay Rental Investments, the company that owns the building.
So far construction is on schedule, something Mears said is rare after being a couple of months in.
“I am quite pleased with the fact that we’ve managed to stay on schedule,” she said, adding they are also still on budget.
The cost of the renovations is estimated at just under $750,000, yet Mears said it will look almost the same as when they started.
However, there will be some noticeable changes to the building’s appearance. The old pink and green colour scheme will be traded in for a more modern mocha colour with a black trim. The windows will be replaced so they will all match, and the Tudor details on the front of the building will be extended around the side and the back, said Mears.
One of the main reasons for the renovations is taking safety precautions with the old building.
“I am quite excited to get to the problems before they become a big problem,” said Mears. “I am looking forward to it being a warmer, more secure, sturdy place.”
Mears’ grandfather, who had been looking for a real estate office, obtained official ownership of the building in 1962.
Built in the 1930s, Mears said the building used to hold a dance club called Club Tango. Office spaces were added to the building in the 1960s when the dance club shut down.
The next major renovation took place in 1983, when Mears’ grandfather converted the theatre solely to office spaces.
“It’s an amazing opportunity that I was given to be able to run a business started by my grandfather,” said Mears. “[But] some days I think I’m too emotionally attached.”