A restaurant group has been eyeing the former Hudsons pub and restaurant, says the owner of the building.
Randy Mabbott, president of Cochrane-based Grand Central Properties Inc., said he’s investigating a lead on the space that has been left vacant since Hudsons pulled the plug last December.
“I’m hoping to meet next week and get a better understanding of what they’re looking — but, yes, there are prospects,” said Mabbott, whose company owns Stantec Executive Place at the corner of Ross Street and 49th Avenue.
“Can we do a deal? It remains to be seen, but it’s not like a few months ago when nobody was talking about it.”
The location is ideal for another eatery.
“A fair bit of money was spent to make that a restaurant space and we have all of the equipment from Hudsons. It would be fairly easy for a restaurant to walk in there, do a little bit of cosmetic change and re-branding, and away they go.
“We’re hopefully a step ahead on that.”
Mabbott plans to meet with the people next week and see what they have in mind.
“That’s the plan, to sit down with the group that’s interested and make sure there is a good fit there. We’re also making sure it’s a good fit for our tenants and everybody else in the area.”
Despite the province’s economic and pandemic-related challenges investors are out looking, he said.
“A little bit to my surprise, they are looking around. I’ve had a few inquiries so that’s been good.
“Leasing generally has been surprising of late, not just on the restaurant front. It’s been very active actually.”
The momentum does not seem to be coming from bargain hunters hoping to take advantage of the economic climate.
Mabbott says many are motivated by a “flight to quality” or are taking a look around at prospects as their current leases expire.
“There’s some optimism out there, I guess, for the longer term.”
The Stantec building is almost full. Besides the former restaurant space, only a 1,400-square-foot space is empty and he has people interested in taking that.
Red Deer, which has been hard hit by COVID and the oilpatch downturn and its impact on oilfield services, is among the locations attracting interest.
“Red Deer is still a good market. We still like it as a whole and we want to work with the community to build more investment here.”
The former Canada Post building directly across from Stantec Executive Place was in his sights for development and there were some potential tenants interested.
“We saw it as an opportunity to continue to help revive and evolve the downtown. We had some concept plans we were working on to revitalize that building while maintaining the heritage aspect of it as was required.
“We had some prospective tenants we were looking at.”
“All those fronts kind of fizzled out and we ran into some issues on the heritage. We’ve just put it on the shelf for now and will revisit it as we are able to do so.
“Their view of maintaining heritage and our view of maintaining heritage didn’t align,” he said, referring to provincial heritage officials.
Mabbott credited the City of Red Deer for its willingness to help anyone interested in redeveloping the building work through the heritage restrictions should Grand Central or other potential investors take another look at it.