Old Co-op building’s renewal almost done

Tyler Clarke
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It’s difficult leaving the house without getting asked about the old Co-op grocery store building in downtown Prince Albert, pastor Glen Stead said.


“Any place somebody meets me or sees me on the street, they ask, ‘How’s the building coming?’” he relayed while providing the Daily Herald with a tour of the expansive building on Tuesday. “We get phone calls every day.”

The Prince Albert Family Church, recently re-named the Embassy Church, spurred some of the public curiosity with its initial construction schedule, which has since proven overly ambitious.

The church purchased the old Co-op grocery store building, at 888 Central Ave., in 2011, with ambitious plans to reinvigorate the space with not only a church, but various other components.

“We were so optimistic in the beginning, but there was so much to do,” Stead said, his positive demeanour dropping for a moment.

“When you remodel, you never know what’s behind every wall,” he explained. “We had to tear out most walls in the place and start fresh. There were a lot of surprises along the way." 

Impatient with the construction process, which was initially scheduled to celebrate its grand opening in the spring of 2013, some members of the congregation have left, he said.

His positive mood re-invigorated, Stead happily noted that a majority of the building should be done by the end of the year, at which time he expects to see a membership resurgence.

“Even a month from now the place will be a much more bustling place,” he said with a smile.

A large worship space at the centre of the main floor opened for the congregation about six weeks ago -- a drastic improvement from their temporary accommodations.

Downstairs government offices will open in about a month, supplementing services offered at the McIntosh Mall.

In September, about 50 students are expected to begin classes in a Christian-based K-12 school at the building’s southern end.

The balance of the expansive building’s two floors is filled out by a public cafeteria (which will open later this year), a daycare (already open), coffee shop, convention centre, gymnasium, a youth centre and various offices.

Reflecting on the Daily Herald’s last article about the building in March 2012, Stead said that almost all of the plans and visions for the building expressed in the 2012 article ring true today.

The only major exception is the initial plan for a public market-style store that would fill out a large swath of its basement.

Any place somebody meets me or sees me on the street, they ask, ‘How’s the building coming?' Glen Stead

After the business backed out, the church switched gears and is now planning on developing the space into a banquet hall.

Although he’s optimistic that the building will open by the end of the year, Stead notes that there’s one potential exception.

The business fronts, which are expected to open up onto Central Avenue, have yet to be finalized.

The main floor’s westernmost section will remain empty until they finalize a deal or deals for the space, Stead explained.

“There’s no point doing it now, when you don’t know what people need,” he said. “There are several looking at it now, so you never know.”

It could accommodate either one commercial business or professional group, or many, he said -- It all depends on which proposals reach the end of the line.

With the long and sometimes trying construction process nearing a close, Stead has an answer to his most commonly-asked question; “How’s the building coming?”

Well! It’s opening soon. 

Organizations: Daily Herald, Prince Albert Family Church

Geographic location: Central Avenue

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