Different options being considered for service station's future
The Calgary Heritage Authority will be squaring off with Transportation and Transit Committee in a meeting on Nov. 14 over the iconic Eamon's building and sign.
The distinctive "one-stop tourist centre" opened in 1949. It reportedly contained Calgary's first drive-in restaurant, a service station and a motel just off of the old No. 1 highway west of Calgary. After the restaurant burned down in 1950, owner Roy Eamon rebuilt it to resemble a railway dining car and placed it on an angle to optimize the mountain view. It stayed open until 1966 after the main highway was moved farther south.
Scott Jolliffe, chair of the Calgary Heritage Authority, says they are at a "critical juncture for the building."
Construction has already began on the new LRT from Crowfoot Centre to the future Rocky Ridge Tuscany Station off Crowchild Trail, and the Eamon's gas station and sign are sitting right in the middle of what is set to be the new park and ride location.
Knowing that the building was in danger, The Heritage Authority quickly
placed the Eamon's Camp Site on the Inventory of Evaluated Historical Resources in 2008, which means that although it is recognized as historically significant to Calgary, it doesn't mean that it is protected from demolition.
The sign from the building will be saved no matter what decision is made in the meeting, as it has been incorporated into the design for the Park and Ride. Ideally, the Heritage Authority would like to see the entire building refurbished and stay in its current location.
Jolliffe described the building as "1,500 square feet of sexy," and says that there is no other building like it left in Canada.
"It represents the automotive culture, which is ironic as the changes in the automotive industry are what killed it," says Jolliffe.
He suggested that it would make a good coffee shop, or even a dry cleaner drop-off, but says that really any kind of business could make use of it.
On Sept. 10 a request for prequalification was released and open for a month to give businesses an opportunity to express their interest in buying the building as it stands. Jolliffe says that the request was just an easy way for the City to say that there was no interest in it.
"There used to be an interested party, and now there's no interested party," says Calgary heritage planner Clint Robertson. "So the question is where is the money coming from? Council? Transportation? I think it's up at around $1.1 million."
Council approved $500,000 in May to fund the move of the building into storage during the construction of the Park and Ride, and the final plan would be decided while the building was in storage.
On the agenda for Wednesday's meeting three separate options will be laid out; demolish the building, sell the building and move it so it can be used somewhere else, or temporarily store the building.
The cheapest option would be demolition, at a cost of $20,000 to $50,000, and the option of selling is also tricky due to the apparent lack of interested buyers. The third alternative would involve temporarily moving the building, but also providing money for it to be refurbished and possibly turned into a public washroom at the park and ride, moved to a new City-owned location, or sold to a third party buyer.
- By Roxanne Blackwell