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Nelson heritage building gets a new life

Two local businesswomen have purchased the former Emergency Management BC building at 403 Vernon Street.  

Dr. Helen Peel and Robin Swift, the owners of Summit Psychology, purchased the building this summer. 

The pair had been searching for a new commercial space to relocate their clinic’s current location on Front Street for many years.   

The practice works with first responders, physicians, PTSD patients and a variety of other psychological services, but they’ve had a two-to-three year wait list for new patients.

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Peel says she had her eye on the heritage building for a few months before it was listed, and when it was, they jumped on the opportunity. 

“We actually saw the listing an hour after it went on the market, and we put an offer right away because we’ve looked at all of the commercial properties in Nelson for quite a few years. We’ve needed to expand for a long time and there just hasn’t been anything that we could rent.” 

The building was constructed in 1900 as the land registry office, and remained used for that purpose until the 1990s.

Renovations on the building started at the beginning of October. Peel said they knew the process would require a further financial obligation beyond the building’s $1.2 million initial investment because of its age, but they were pleasantly surprised when they saw its condition, considering it had sat vacant for several years.  

The building’s brick exterior and heritage features have been well preserved over time. The three-level interior has high, concrete ceilings and archways, concrete floors throughout the building and other heritage features that Peel and Swift plan to embrace throughout the renovation process.  

They’re only renovating the top floor for now until their budget allows for upgrades to the rest of the building.  

With the help of their husbands, children, a contractor and an architect they’re hoping to be moved into their new facility by March.  

“It’s safe to say we’ve exhausted all our current resources. So we are putting a lot of faith in each other and have been leaning on our families,” said Peel.  

“We have hired a contractor and an architect who knows our budget is small, and we’re just planning on being creative to make it beautiful without spending a fortune.” 

The top floor is the first phase and is being renovated to accommodate seven office spaces. Once completed, the top floor alone will provide the practice four times the space than it has now.  

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