Riversdale shifting gears

A local developer says Riversdale is ready for the next stage in its development.

To that end, Curtis Olson of Shift Development Inc. has purchased the former headquarters of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company at 220 20th St. West.

He plans to turn it into his company’s head office and the location of several like-minded small businesses involved in everything from graphic and website design to furniture design to engineering.

"I’m going to be kind of bringing together a lot of these forward-thinking businesses, people who are concerned about how our city is growing and developing in the coming years, into one facility,” said Olson.

"The building and Riversdale are going to be a home for my business for the next 20 years."

The main floor will have a cafe. Olson couldn’t announce the owner yet, but it’s an established local operator. Office and shared space, such as meeting and board rooms, will be upstairs.

Olson bought the building based on location and quality. Listed at $645,000, it was also a good price, though he wouldn’t say how much he paid for it. The rennovations should cost about $250,000 and be ready by fall. At one point, the building was home to Joe’s Cycle.

"That building is smack dab in the best part of 20th Street, and it’s a big building and it’s got great bones. And it’s going to be a really easy renovation project," Olson said.

"It’s one block away from the farmer’s market. I can walk there in five minutes from my house in Caswell Hill. I figure I’ve got it licked to live without a car now."

The concept of hubs for creative business — laptop-based, world-focused — is growing in the United States but still fairly rare in Canada, said Olson.

"I know a lot of people who’ve moved back to Saskatoon that still do business all over North America. They’re a little shop — but they have unbelievable talent.

"It’s going to be very exciting."

The theatre company, meanwhile, has said it plans to move next door to its original building at 228 20th St. after renovating it. The theatre was forced to restructure and put one of its two buildings up for sale due to its debt load.

While some ponder the future of Riversdale, Olson says he can already see it.

"I have spent a lot of time in Riversdale. I’ve kept a very close eye on that neighborhood and Caswell Hill. In my mind, the future of those two neighborhoods has already been determined because I know the demographic of people buying houses and moving into these areas and it is a very progressive, very urban-focused demographic of people moving in.

"The future is written for Riversdale."

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