Building on a vision: Kentville’s Calkin Building could become arts, cultural, small business hub


Published on February 1, 2017

Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow says the town and the Kentville Development Corporation Limited have a vision for the Calkin Building but no final decisions have been made and the possibilities are nearly endless.

©Kirk Starratt

KENTVILLE, NS - Although nothing is set in stone, there’s a vision surrounding Kentville’s Calkin Building that could see the evolution of an arts, cultural and small business hub for the Annapolis Valley.

I think the best part of it all is that we actually have young people in Kentville who want to take this on - Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow

 

Although nothing is set in stone, there’s a vision surrounding Kentville’s Calkin Building that could see the evolution of an arts, cultural and small business hub for the Annapolis Valley.

A recent assessment completed for the town indicates that the building is 75 years old. It was originally T.P. Calkin’s hardware store and has seen many uses over the decades. It has housed a sporting goods business, clothing retailer, gallery and Ocean Art Pewter. Most recently it was home to Café Central, a gelato bar and a campaign headquarters. The building features three levels with approximately 3,400 square feet of space on each.

Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow takes a look through a set of double doors that open from the Calkin Building into the hallway of the Centre Square Mall.

©Kirk Starratt

The estate of the late Doug Macdonald donated the building to the Town of Kentville in December with the idea that the town could best facilitate its future use. Macdonald was a well-known Kentville businessman involved in real estate, investment holdings, insurance and more.

“He really loved Kentville and he really wanted to see business flourish here,” Mayor Sandra Snow said.

Mayor Sandra Snow in a section of the Calkin Building that could be used to house a gallery for arts and cultural initiatives.

©Kirk Starratt

The Calkin Building features a spacious, dry basement with stone walls and a fireplace.

©Kirk Starratt

Snow said the town is very grateful for the early Christmas present, which she described as an ideal development opportunity. She said no decisions have been made but there’s a lot of interest surrounding the building and the possibilities are almost endless.

“That’s the nice part about it, you can come in here and it doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to visualize what it could be,” Snow said.

She said both the town and the Kentville Development Corporation Limited are excited about the potential. Some people would like to see a café once again established in the former Café Central space. The building could be used as a permanent home for the Kentville Farmers Market, a gallery for arts and cultural initiatives and a small business incubation hub.

“I think the best part of it all is that we actually have young people in Kentville who want to take this on,” she said. “We have such potential right here at our fingertips.”

The building features two large walk-in safes.

©Kirk Starratt

Mayor Sandra Snow admires the craftsmanship and all the hard work that went into building the stone wall foundation of the Calkin Building.

©Kirk Starratt

Snow said there could be great synergy with the ground floor spaces connected by doors so people could move freely from one area to the next. The ground level of the Cornwallis Street property features double doors that open into the adjacent Centre Square Mall. The Kings County Museum is directly across the street.

Snow said the building features several temporary walls that were installed to divide the space that could be removed to open it up. On the other hand, each space has its own entrance, amenities and electrical breaker box.

“You can see how each of the spaces has everything you would need to operate as a separate business,” Snow said.

Kentville’s Calkin Building was constructed before the neighbouring Centre Square Mall. These upstairs windows now look out onto walls.

©Kirk Starratt

Kentville chief administrative officer Mark Phillips said the building is sound but he anticipates having to address some safety and accessibility issues in the near future.

“It’s been an anchor building in the downtown for a long time and has been home to many businesses and tenants over the years,” Phillips said.

A strategic approach to managing the building will ensure that future uses will complement the existing downtown business environment, help attract new businesses and foster growth.

kstarratt@kingscountynews.ca

There are great views of Cornwallis and Webster streets from the upstairs of Kentville’s Calkin building.

©Kirk Starratt