The desolate group of buildings that greet motorists upon their arrival to Hay River should be completely renovated by the summer, according to owner Duncan Cooke.
The Arctic Canada Construction president said work on the buildings, formerly known as the Cedar Rest Motel, initially began in August 2011 and had recently resumed.
More commonly known as ‘Brown Town’ for its colour and drab state, the seven buildings will soon be transformed into a 36-unit motel called Hay River Suites.
In August of last year, Cooke predicted the units would be ready for occupancy by this April.
As for why that is not going to happen, he explained the delay in the $3-million project was partially caused by work being carried out simultaneously on other projects in Hay River, such as the new fire hall and renovations to Diamond Jenness Secondary School.
“We were partially delayed by other projects, but also because we wanted to get plans and permitting completed,” he said.
The building foundations have been fixed, the roofing has been replaced, and new doors and windows are about to go in, according to Cooke.
Heating will be activated in the centre and north blocks sometime in the next few weeks. Renovations to the interior and exterior of the buildings will begin soon after that work is complete.
“It’s not going to be called Brown Town anymore,” Cooke quipped.
Landscaping and parking lot paving will most likely be done next year.
Completion of the project will be great news for Hay River Fire Chief Ross Potter, who has on occasion been called to the site to put out fires.
“We are extremely happy to see the renovations taking place,” he said. “Not only from the perspective of the buildings being fire and safety hazards, but the fact that Brown Town is pretty much the first impression people get of Hay River upon their arrival into town. With that cleaned up and buildings refinished, it will be a huge step towards the beautification of Hay River.”
The buildings have been empty for approximately eight years. They once served as staff housing at Pine Point and have been in Hay River since the early ’90s.