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Volunteers paint out the purple

NANAIMO: Members of Nanaimo’s Young Professionals group spruce up former A&B Sound building.
Dave McCallum

What was once known as the ‘Barney Building’ downtown got a facelift over the weekend courtesy of the Young Professionals of Nanaimo.

Volunteers gave the building a fresh coat of paint with the objective of beautifying the neighbourhood.

The building, located on prime real estate at Commercial Street and Terminal Avenue, has been vacant for four years – Canadian electronics retailer A&B Sound closed the location in July 2008 – and it is listed for lease.

Braden Wheatcroft, YPN membership director and project co-ordinator, said the purple paint job was looking tired.

“It’s a building that is really holding back the downtown from being revitalized,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been talking about for more than a year now. We just want to make sure it looks its best for passersby.

“The downtown area is something our members are passionate about.”

He said three weeks ago, the organization received permission from the building’s owner to do the project, at which time the group scrambled to secure donations of paint and other supplies from various local companies and recruit volunteers to help out.

About 60 people, mainly Young Professionals members, showed up to paint the building on Friday and Saturday, finishing a day ahead of schedule.

Karly Parker of Kallos Interior Design said the colours – a grey with dark brown awning – were picked to complement the nearby buildings.

Brad Bailey, an agent for Colliers International, which has the listing, said the new paint job looks good, but he’s not sure how much it would improve prospects for finding a new tenant because major upgrades are needed to the interior of the building.

“It would have to be a substantial tenant,” he said. “I think that the whole idea is that the building has to eventually give way to a new one.”

In July, Steiner Properties Ltd. asset manager Chelsea Harding told the News Bulletin the company’s Nanaimo property is on the back burner while it deals with other properties and it is becoming more apparent the building will likely have to be demolished.

Wheatcroft said even if the owners decide to tear the building down, the paint job makes it look good in the meantime.

Corry Hostetter, general manager of the Downtown Nanaimo BIA, said the YPN project will hopefully encourage other properties in the area to do restoration work.

“We really appreciate the enthusiasm and the energy that the YPN are showing in our community,” she said.