Historic Mercer Warehouse transforming into entrepreneurial hub
Published Thursday, May 10, 2012 10:59AM MDT
A historic downtown building is being turned into an entrepreneurial hub.
The latest addition to the hundred year old Mercer Building at the corner of 104 Avenue and 104 Street is Startup Edmonton, a non-profit organization that rents office space and gives guidance to local entrepreneurs.
"The biggest thing we offer is community, in addition to classes and events to help you learn and obviously desk space so you have a place to work," said Startup Edmonton co-founder Cam Linke.
A special events planning business, flower shop, coffee house and pub will soon move into other parts of the building, projects that are helping transform 104 Street into a thriving part of downtown.
"This block is about to change radically in the next six months," says Jim Taylor with the Downtown Business Association. "It's just amazing."
The Mercer Warehouse was originally built in 1911.
Businessman Devin Pope is helping lead the redevelopment of the historic building and says it's been a magnet for entrepreneurs.
"A bunch of entrepreneurs started coming in and wanting to restore [it] to its natural state and making a business out of it for themselves," Pope said.
He adds that preserving the Mercer Warehouse will help improve the city.
"In large cities like Montreal or New York, they preserve a lot of their old buildings. It brings a lot of culture to your city," Pope said.
"You just can't make buildings like that anymore."
Inside, much of the original building has been maintained, which translates into lower rents for tenants to able to grow their businesses.
Construction of the building is nearing completion and the new businesses are expected to open in early June.
It's only the start of the revitalization process, as the new downtown arena is expected to move into the area as well.
"This street has been a success and this really completes the block," Taylor said.
With files from Amanda Anderson