More than six months after wind storms caused extensive flooding at a building in Churchill Square in St. John's, at least one displaced store owner is eagerly waiting to move back in before the busy Christmas shopping season.
Heavy rain during the March storms leaked into most of the three-storey building on the east side of Churchill Square, after the roof of the complex was heavily damaged. That meant 63 apartment units had to be extensively renovated and business tenants on the ground level had to shut down.
Charlie Oliver, the CEO of Martek, the company that manages the building, said most businesses should be able to return to the building sometime in the next month or two to start rebuilding their stores, and most residents of the apartments should be able to move in sometime in early 2018.
It's been a rough road for those businesses, many of which had to relocate to other areas of the city. For Alpine Country Lodge, a store that specializes in outdoor clothing, that meant moving to a temporary location downtown on Water Street, after 23 years in Churchill Square.
Co-owner Brad Squires says he's been told they should be able to return to the square sometime in November.
"It will be great timing for us because we are coming into our busiest season for sure," he told the St. John's Morning Show. "We will make it work somehow. We're really hoping to be back, and it looks like we're on track for that."
Squires said while Alpine Country Lodge was lucky in that most of its stock was unaffected by the water damage, finding a new space to set up shop was a big challenge, because most landlords required an extended lease.
He said the owner of the Water Street space let them rent on a month-to-month basis.
Wants to remain in Churchill Square
While sales have been good throughout the summer, Squires said he has no intention of keeping Alpine Country Lodge downtown.
"We have a competitor on Water Street that shares a lot of the same lines as such so we wouldn't be able to do that," he said."Our suppliers wouldn't allow that, it's too close."
Martek CEO Charlie Oliver told CBC that the building, which was constructed in the mid 1950s, had to be upgraded to bring it up to modern codes. Squires was told back in March that his business would be able to return in October, but he's not surprised to learn it's been delayed a month given the extent of the damage.
With Christmas just around the corner, he said everyone at Alpine Country Lodge is ready to get back in their old home.
"The area has been really good to us," he said. "So we're really looking forward to getting back there."