Another historical Whyte Avenue building is about to undergo a revitalization by Beljan Development; the 1910 Richards Block just west of 104 Street received its Building Permit on February 28 to replace the building's mechanical systems, as well as to add new exterior windows and doors to better connect the building to its surroundings.

Rendering of Richards Block Revitalization, image via Omada Commercial

The building was constructed between 1909-10 by A.H. Richards Co., one of the oldest commercial firms in Strathcona. Built in the Edwardian style, it was one of the first in the area to move away from the wood-frame boomtown style exemplified by the neighbouring Tipton Block, toward buildings with a greater sense of permanence and ornamentation.

Historic image of the Richards Block circa 1910, image via Provincial Archives of Alberta

While the Richards general store occupied the main floor, the upper floors contained a dance hall and meeting spaces which were frequented by Freemasons and Odd Fellows fraternal organisations, marking the building as an important cultural hub in the early development of the City of Strathcona.

Rendering of new entrances off Spur Line Alley, image via Omada Commercial

Beljan purchased the building in 2017, and sought both municipal and provincial heritage designations, both of which were approved in 2019.

Working with Hodgson Schilf Evans Architects, Beljan is looking to open the building up to the adjoining Spur Line Alley to the east and the rear laneway to the north - part of the company's trend to activate the Old Strathcona's back alleys into intimate and active people places.

Rendering of new rear lane activation, image via Omada Commercial

When the $535,000 project is complete, three new retail spaces - 1,569 square-feet on the main floor, and 1,891 and 1,399 square-foot spaces on the lower levels will be available for lease. The upper level residential rental suites are also set to be renovated and modernized.

SkyriseEdmonton will be sure to follow this project as it progresses. What do you think of the revitalization of Richards Block? Leave a comment below, or join the conversation in our Forum! More information and images can also be found in the project Database entries linked below.