iN PHOTOS: Vacant old Star Theatre in Armstrong brought back to life
A treasured old downtown Armstrong building that has been sitting empty for 12 years has been given new life.
Originally a theatre called Star Theatre, the longstanding piece of Armstrong’s history was built in the 1930s.
Over the decades, the building was used for a variety of business purposes such as a bulk food store and an equipment rental place.
Ian Donn and his wife, from Oyama, often visit Armstrong and, after walking past the empty old relic, Donn was intrigued. He later decided to update it, transform it, and turn it into a beautiful, functioning residential and commercial space, while doing his best to keep the original features.
After nine months of work, the project is almost finished.
“It turned into a monster project,” Donn said. “There was just so much to do. We have finished the commercial space and are completing a second two bedroom apartment.”
The three-storey building has 3,000 square feet of commercial space and an additional 6,000 square feet designated for residential at 2540 Pleasant Valley Boulevard.
A self-described artistic renovator who loves to get creative, Donn was inspired to fix up the building because of its special history and design, and his wife encouraged the idea.
“I would always walk to the garden centre and every time I passed the building I thought something should be done with it,” he said. “It was such a cool building with funky bannisters and curved railings, and a cinema foyer.
“Inside you see there was a stage for a band and a smaller one for a singer. The guys before us were trying to create a dinner theatre.”
The building came up for sale twice and Donn missed the opportunities, but put in an offer that was accepted the third time it came up.
He wanted to provide more space for families to rent given the current shortages in the rental market.
“People are desperate to find a place to live,” he said. “We will finish the second apartment and will add more two bedroom apartments eventually.”
An open house was held July 29 for those interested in seeing the transformation or inquiring about residential or commercial rental space. Donn said he wanted to show it to the community and thank them for the support he received throughout the long renovation.
“It was awesome, people loved it,” he said. “Over 120 people came through in two hours. We showed the commercial space and adjoining two bedroom apartment available for rent.
“People love that this old building is not being demolished, they are really excited. It will be interesting to see what ends up in the 3,000 square foot commercial space at the front end of it.”
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