109-year-old Scona Garage on Whyte Avenue set for transformation

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Beljan Development is working on transforming the Scona Garage on Whyte Avenue into a retail and hotel space. (Submitted by Beljan Development - image credit)
Beljan Development is working on transforming the Scona Garage on Whyte Avenue into a retail and hotel space. (Submitted by Beljan Development - image credit)

After standing for more than a century on Whyte Avenue, the Scona Garage is set to receive a new lease on life.

The 109-year-old building on 105th Street is planned for renovations that will turn it into new retail space and a hotel.

The Scona Garage, owned by Otto Edinger, was built in 1912 at a cost of $40,000 to house cars and as an apartment building.

Local politician Joseph Henry Morris owned the first automobile in town in 1904, a Ford Model A.

"After that first car came, then even 10 years later, there were only 100 cars in the city," Tom Monto, Edmonton historian and author, told CBC's Radio Active on Thursday. "So it was a hard road for a garage."

Over the ensuing decades, the building changed owners often, before the Keg took over in 1974 and remained for more than 45 years. At that time, the main floor was renovated and the second floor mostly used for storage. Some elements, including the original wood staircase to the front foyer, remained intact.

Ownership of the Scona Garage has changed hands numerous times since it was first built in 1912.
Ownership of the Scona Garage has changed hands numerous times since it was first built in 1912.(Submitted by Beljan Development)

A year ago, Beljan Developments bought the property and is now in the process of converting the second-level apartments into boutique short-term residential rentals.

"We want to make sure that there is still some component that really speaks to what was up there previously," Nathan Raju, Beljan Development spokesperson, said about the old apartments.

As for the main floor, Beljan plans to fill the 8,500-square-foot space with retail businesses they hope could include a restaurant, cafe or a micro-brewery.

One last touch that Beljan has planned is to include a garage door on the building's east side, to honour the Scona Garage's long history.

"Even the plaque outside shows the vehicles that were inside the showroom, and so we're going to bring all of that back working with the heritage council to make sure that we're doing that in a proper fashion," Raju said.

Beljan doesn't have a projected opening date, but hopes the restoration work will be complete by the end of the year.