Neighbours of the Greenwood Inn are happy to learn the building is undergoing renovation under new ownership.
The building at 117 Christina St. has cool architecture and a bit of history but has fallen on tough times in recent years, despite operating with what seemed to be a viable Chinese restaurant and Liquid Johnny’s bar in the lower levels.
“It’s wonderful to see something new going on there,” said Mary Ann Peloza, co-owner of The Cheeky Monkey music store across the street.
She and husband Roland had hoped something more upscale would replace the aging hotel and it looks like their wish has been granted.
New owners Patrick Coutu and Jim Pumple have confirmed the Greenwood Inn’s top two storeys are being redeveloped into 22 executive furnished rentals. The main floor and lower floor restaurant and bar are also being renovated to meet the needs of new commercial operators, as yet unconfirmed.
“We’re making no structural changes,” said Coutu.
He and Pumple have been involved in other downtown conversions, most recently at The Republik restaurant up the street.
The number of rooms at the Greenwood — 22 — isn’t changing, but each will be completely gutted and redecorated. Some will have kitchenettes; others outfitted with microwaves and mini fridges.
“For years, we’ve believed there is a market for quality turnkey rooms that can be rented by people staying for a month or more,” said Coutu.
For instance, temporary workers brought in for turnarounds are part of the target market.
He and Pumple are aware of ongoing rumours of large-scale construction projects in the Chemical Valley, and that the new project could cater to those workers.
But Coutu insists they didn’t buy the Greenwood Inn based on those big jobs going ahead.
“We’re planning this based on current market conditions,” he said. “We’re not banking on new investment coming in.”
The two investors took possession of 117 Christina on Sept. 5 and two days later construction crews began tearing signs off the building front and stripping the interior.
“This is what we’ve hoped for,” said Peloza at Cheeky Monkey. “Any time we see reinvestment in our downtown it’s good news.”
It could also bring a nice change in clientele to the area, she added. In recent years, The Greenwood Inn has been a magnet for ambulances and fire trucks at all hours of the day and night.
There isn’t a lot to go on, but local historian John Rochon believes 117 Christina was built around 1911 as the Bell telephone exchange.
In 1950, it was sold and converted into the Colborne Hotel, an annex of the Colonial Hotel. Later, Mr. Mike’s bar was located there and an Asian dining room opened in the mid 1980s.
Mr. Mike’s shut down and about seven years later Liquid Johnny’s opened in 2013 and became a hot spot for live bands and late nights.
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