Former Cobb’s building changing

Nine months after the last bag of groceries when out the door at Sylvan Lake’s Cobb’s AG Foods, the store’s landmark building appears to have a new lease on life. River City Developments Ltd. wants to convert the 5015 50th St. building into a shopping centre, with its dozen units to include a restaurant with a patio.

Nine months after the last bag of groceries when out the door at Sylvan Lake’s Cobb’s AG Foods, the store’s landmark building appears to have a new lease on life.

River City Developments Ltd. wants to convert the 5015 50th St. building into a shopping centre, with its dozen units to include a restaurant with a patio.

Ken Wessel, a partner in the Red Deer company, said the plan is to transform the existing structure into an attractive, two-storey site called Cobb’s Block Central.

“We’ve gutted it basically, and made it so it’s going to be brand new all the way through.”

Wessel listed hardwood flooring, LED lighting, a high-efficiency heating system and upgraded insulation as among the additions.

The main floor would boast a large foyer with access to the second storey via a curved stairway and an elevator, and the exterior would be upgraded.

“It is a very well-built structure,” said Wessel of the building, which is about 23 years old.

A grocery store operated at the site for many years, with A.F. Cobb purchasing a Co-op grocery and dry goods business in 1928.

Don and Rita Gummo, who operated Cobb’s AG Foods from 1999, decided to close the business in the face of an increasingly competitive retail food market.

Sylvan Lake’s municipal planning commission voted on Monday to recommend River City’s proposal to town council, which must approve developments in the lakefront area. Mayor Susan Samson said the matter could be dealt with by council as early as next Monday.

She described plans for Cobb’s Block Central as “very aesthetically pleasing,” and said the project would provide a boost to the downtown.

“We think that what they’re proposing here is going to increase the intensity and the density in the downtown,” said Samson. “And for us, that means more people working in the area, and attracting more people into that area to shop.”

If council approval is received, Wessel estimated that it will take four to six months to complete the renovations. Occupants could choose between ownership and tenancy.

“We’re open to selling or leasing, but our intent is to sell as much as possible,” he said.

Wessel said he’s received a number of inquiries about units in the building, of which seven would be on the main floor and five on the second level. Retail and professional uses have been proposed, he said.

“A lot of the people who are calling us are existing businesses that are leasing in other buildings.”

The building’s total usable space would be approximately 25,500 square feet, with nearly 2,400 square feet of this earmarked for the restaurant. In addition to the restaurant, Cobb’s Clothing would operate on the ground floor in its existing location.

Wessel said the building is appealing because of its heritage ties, its ample parking and its location in downtown Sylvan Lake.

“Downtown Sylvan doesn’t really have this concept.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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