Filling the downtown gap
Suggestions for prized downtown property

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 03/00) - The city is selling three lots in the heart of downtown -- prime spots for a few small businesses with high-traffic frontage along with coveted views of the Yellowknifer office and the deck of The Right Spot.

Shrewd developer-types will have noticed long ago the property is located between the liquor store, a smoke shop, a bar and Subway.

With the basic necessities of life taken care of by businesses in the immediate area, a little imagination is required to figure out how to realize the full profit potential of the land.

Asked what he would like to see on the three adjacent 50-by-100-foot lots, the city's senior planner said he shares the views of many others.

"I guess anything that brings more people downtown and makes them stay longer and spend more money," said Monte Christensen with a laugh.

A waterslide, perhaps?

"I don't know if that's practical," said Christensen. "There's not much you can do on three small lots like that. A combination of commercial and residential is probably the most practical way to go."

Subway owner John Williston noted that the people who will be spending the money, if anybody will, on the property will be the ones who ultimately decide what goes up.

Williston said he knows what he doesn't want to see there. "Certainly not another bar.

"I would like to see some parking incorporating some green space, kind of like your waterslide idea, but it would end up being a hang-out," said Williston.

Architect Wayne Guy agreed with Christensen, adding the development should also be visually pleasing.

"Four storeys with a public shopping space on the main floor, with residential second, third and fourth. That would keep people downtown.

"What you don't want is downtown to be strictly business and the residential component going to the suburbs, because at night the town dies."

The family-oriented element may die in the evenings, but those in the business of quenching Northern thirsts, and those with the thirsts, seem to keep things hopping, on weekend nights at least.