Owner of the Albion St building John James says completion of renovations is in the near future.
Owner of the Albion St building John James says completion of renovations is in the near future. Emma Channon

Renovation rescue

IT HAS had a long line of businesses come and go and now the building at the corner of Albion and King Sts is being prepared for a new chapter.

John and Lois James have owned the building since the mid-70s and the pair has taken an interest in tracking the history of the site.

Mr James said it has previously opened as a petrol station, rural supplies, piano shop and car dealership, to name a few.

“Lois and I purchased it as an investment property and it was a radiator works then,” he said.

“Previous to that it was a toy shop belonging to Chas Carey and the second half was an upholstery and windscreen business.”

After operating as an antique and second-hand shop for a number of years, Mr James said it was time to continue the renovations they’d started.

“When we first got it half of the second building was dirt floor, so we concreted that, and also concreted the third building,” he said.

“We want to refurbish it now and bring it up to the standard where it will be suitable for a bigger range of businesses.”

Part of those refurbishments have included installing a kitchen and offices, a new suspended ceiling, re-doing the outside walls, installing new windows and doors and levelling the floor.

“Previously the floor sloped downwards, we think because it was too expensive for the previous owners to have it levelled when it was built,” Mr James said.

“Also it may have helped with drainage if water was to come in.”

Over the years, Mr James said the store had also been gradually raised to fend off rising waters.

“When we pulled up the floor – and we presume it would have had timber flooring – some stumps were only two feet high,” he said.

“We think when they built Albion St it probably would have been lower than it is now and over the years the floor came prone to water inundation, so the building was lifted.”

Mr and Mrs James also own the neighbouring building currently leased to Lifeline.

With Lifeline moving out at the end of this financial year, Mr James said the two buildings would provide a large amount of space for future tenants.

“(After the renovations) we’ll have a large amount of showroom – about 300m2 and another 100m2 for storage or a workshop,” he said.

“It would suit us (to rent both buildings out to the one businesses) but it depends on what comes along.

“We haven’t started advertising the lease to the businesses yet; we just want to get it a bit more finished and have it looking as good as it can before we show people.”

The pair have contracted Roulston Builders for the renovations and said the majority of work would be finished in another month.

 

Businesses

  • Reason and Kirkegaard auctioneers
  • International Trucks garage
  • Toy shop and upholstery and windscreen business
  • Radiator works (when John and Lois James buy building)
  • Antiques and second-hand shop


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