Inside tour of a local landmark saved and revitalized

Oakwyn - 7

Finally, a story of cookie-cutter condos NOT replacing a longstanding and familiar local landmark.

A few days back, I was given a warm welcome and a grand tour of a distinctive building in my neighbourhood that has been given a new lease on life.

Nearly two years ago, things looked bleak for the distinctive structure at 16th and Oak, which for many years was a Blockbuster Video store. I attended an “open house” for the impending development and was distinctly unimpressed with what I saw – a generic, blocky pile that erased the distinctive curve (along with the matching sidewalk) and made it look like any other corner of the city.

After that, it seemed the building was being prepared for demolition but at some point I realized that this wasn’t the case; instead a real estate company seemed to be using it. But I still had the feeling it was some kind of temporary scenario.

I’m delighted to say I was wrong. Here’s what happened instead.

Oakwyn Realty has put great effort into remodelling the building and it is now their permanent home. And personally, I couldn’t be happier that the distinctive streetscape on this corner has been preserved.

But it’s better than that. Oakwyn, working with SSDG Interiors (who also created the Hootsuite HQ) have not just replaced the Blockbuster-blue exterior with sleek black – they’ve transformed the interior into something very impressive and beautiful.

Aside from the necessary reconfiguration for corporate use, the offices are full of eye-pleasing art and photography. Steve Hornung of The Creative Individual created a rainbow mural along an inside corridor, and intriguing and delightful pieces by various artists are everywhere.

Office manager Ashley Wilson gave me the grand tour, and reiterated what seemed evident – that they are there to stay. She told me how important it is for them to engage with the local community, told of upcoming summer community events in the works, and told me to keep in touch, which I certainly plan to do.

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