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What will happen next at 393 Seymour Street?

 

Daily News building at Seymour and 4th.

Daily News building at Seymour and 4th.

ARMCHAIR MAYOR SAYS — The Kamloops Daily News building at 393 Seymour Street is a lonely looking place these days. Only a skeleton management staff inhabits the place tidying up the remains of a once-vibrant newspaper franchise. A newspaper coin box sits at the front door, empty.

What will happen to the building? In the final edition of the paper last Saturday, Daily News publisher Tim Shouts said Glacier Media has no immediate plans for the property.

“Any disposition of the real estate following the closure of the Daily News would be handled by Glacier corporate office,” he was quoted as saying.

But that doesn’t stop the community from guessing about its future. I hasten to add I have no idea who Glacier might be talking to (if anyone) any more than you do, but some interesting thoughts are floating around the coffee klatches.

A few favourites have come up. One possibility is that a buyer will come along with a plan to redevelop it into retail or office space. It was built in 1956 as a Hudson’s Bay Company department store and it served that purpose very well for many years — I used to joke that the newsroom was located in the women’s wear department.

At 30,000 sq. ft., it’s roomy. In fact, it was always more space than the paper needed. All the offices were on the main floor. The second floor was used for storage of records and some equipment and, for awhile, as an event space for such things as the Readers Choice Awards, a chamber of commerce reception, and other meetings.

The basement served as the press and mail rooms, with papers rolled on dollies to the elevator and up to the loading dock.

But maybe we should think more in terms of land and location than the building itself. Available downtown property is pretty much non-existent right now. When you include the parking lot behind the building and across the alleyway, one can envision the existing building being removed and a brand new development taking place.

Theoretically, at least, it could be a performing arts centre. City Hall appears to have a preference for focusing arts facilities in the downtown core, a strategy I’ve never understood and have written about before. The Henry Grube Centre is still my favourite despite some perceived access issues but if the South Shore is going to be favoured the Daily News building would probably serve the purpose if a parkade was part of the design.

Of course, construction of a new arts centre (or concert hall if you prefer) is likely quite a few years away if it happens at all but that wouldn’t rule out acquiring a suitable property. I’ve always believed a referendum on an arts centre has to be held in the context of at least a general indication of location, because otherwise it’s a pretty hard thing to envision.

Anyway, speaking of parkades….  As we all know, the downtown core needs another one, and that is an issue we will have to face sooner or later. The rejection of Council’s plan a couple of years ago to put a parkade at Riverside Park has only postponed the issue. Finding property for one is going to be tough. Online commenters have long suggested the Daily News building as a future parkade site.

And, finally, someone suggested it might be a good site for another downtown hotel. While there are several good hotels in the core already (with considerable investment in renovations, and the Sandman will surely be finished soon), the city centre might benefit from more rooms.

All very easy to speculate about, of course. The future of that address will, no doubt, be the subject of much curiosity in the months ahead.

About Mel Rothenburger (8666 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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