The future location of an escape room. (Betsy Kline/Castlegar News)

The future location of an escape room. (Betsy Kline/Castlegar News)

New and expanding businesses abound around Castlegar

Fourteen vacant commercial spaces have been filled in recent months

There has been a lot of movement in the retail sector in Castlegar in recent months and Castlegar’s economic development manager Mark Laver thinks it shows confidence in Castlegar’s economy is growing.

“It is a positive story for the city and the region — these business owners are seeing value and the opportunity here in the Castlegar area,” said Laver.

In the fall of 2017, 28 commercial spaces downtown starting from the bottom of Sherbico Hill were identified as vacant — either existing buildings with empty spaces or empty lots that could be developed into commercial uses. Since then, 14 of those spaces have been filled.

New businesses around town include a toy store and a children’s consignment shop (near Kootenay Market), a fitness studio (old Mountain FM building), a group clubhouse, a counselling service, a new-and-used store (near Mother Natures) and an artisan co-op (Yes-Please near Central City Shoes).

Martech has purchased the old Fortis building and expanded to include a second location.

The Kootenay Career Development Society has moved to a larger location downtown in the old Kootenay Savings building. The building has been given a facelift.

The Woods nightclub has replaced the Element.

Coming soon are a medical supply store, a kitchen cabinetry showroom and a restaurant featuring all-day breakfast.

Long-time Castlegar landmark the Hi-Lite Restaurant has sold and will be replaced with a new restaurant that will be evolving to suit the tastes of local clientele, including guest chefs for set-menu events.

For those who have been longing for some more entertainment options in town, one of the most exciting new ventures is an escape room slated to open in May near the downtown Subway. An escape room adventure locks participants into a room and in order to get out they must solve a serious of puzzles and gather clues, often requiring teamwork following an engaging storyline.

At least one downtown housing development is in the works and several other vacant downtown lots have recently been sold.

On the other end of town, a commercial developer has purchased five acres of land adjacent to the West Kootenay Regional Airport. An announcement has not been made as to what is moving into that space.

“I haven’t seen this type of movement ever,” said Chamber of Commerce executive director Tammy Verigin-Burk. “This is incredible action that is happening. It is an exciting time for people who have entrepreneurial interests to look at some of the remaining spaces.”

About 2,000 people live in the downtown area with another 200-300 people working there. About 10,000 cars drive through the downtown core each day.

Verigin-Burk says that with the new and existing businesses and Millennium Park and Sculpture Walk drive more traffic to the area that she expects things to prosper.

Laver has put together an inventory package and an investment guide for those interested in doing business in Castlegar. Information is available through the economic development manager’s office at the Chamber of Commerce or at the West Kootenay Trade Show this weekend at the Castlegar & District Community Complex.

“It’s proof positive of a lot of the downtown revitalization that the city has been working towards,” said Castlegar CAO Chris Barlow. “Not just in aesthetics, but Sculpturewalk, the enhanced presence of Communities in Bloom, Millennium Park — they all draw more and more people to downtown and we are starting to see the effects.”