Restoration of Via Rail building in Prince Rupert continues.

New steak house will operate out of the building.

12/23/2010

Upgrades to the historic Via Rail building in Prince Rupert are on track and halfway complete since the building was sold to a local resident exactly one year ago. The building has been vacant for almost 20 years but after being purchased by a local contracting company who proposed restoring it, the building is slowly being brought back to life.

"The biggest surprise we found is that the building is actually perfectly square after 100 years of being here and perfectly level." Says owner Frank Visentin. "It has not budged one bit. Which really excited us after being a building beside a railway, an active railway for many many years, we figured there would have been some movement but actually the building is in great great great shape."

Another surprise was finding decorate brickwork hidden behind layers of wood on the building's second floor. It will all be refurbished and remain exposed.

Visentin says it will be a steak house franchise from Western Canada that will be operating the Bistro upstairs. Which company that will be has not been announced since paperwork is still being finalized.

"Until we know where the services are going to go we can't put that in and that's basically the next step. The exterior will be refurbished back to 1906. Upstairs all the mill work, the interior of the building will be brought back to its original. There'll be all new windows all new doors and everything else which will be new but back to the original drawings."

Companies from Prince Rupert, Terrace, Prince George and even ones in Europe have been contracted out for the project. Visentin says Via rail has been also been propositioned to see if they would like to operate out of the first floor. Visentin says his company will have an office on the same floor and he's even looking at bringing someone in from Italy to make authentic gelatos and capuccinos.

Work will resume in January and the entire project is expected to be completed in the Summer and the bistro opened in June.