Everyone, it seems, has been interested in the project.
I spoke with Tanya Handley about Fenix House. She recalled many downtown residents stopped by regularly to chat and see what was happening.
Some people talked about former residents. Some people talked about the great gardens in the yard.
Stroll down 6th Avenue in downtown Whitehorse and you will discover the warm and inviting Fenix House. Innovative window shapes and warm, vibrant colours add an interesting contrast to other buildings in the immediate area.
6131 6th Avenue has been owned by many people over the years. John Papp and his wife Gertrude bought the property in 1970 for approximately $17,000. Papp was a mechanic in town.
In 1981, Rose Marie Byrne bought the property for $60,000. In 1998, Alacrity Enterprises Inc. paid $112,500.00 for it.
I can’t imagine what the house is worth now, with Whitehorse housing prices ballooning daily. The great renovations recently completed have increased the value, to be sure.
I met with Shehnaz Ali, one of three owners of Fenix House. Ali, along with husband William Slater and Tanya Handley bought the building in 2010, with plans to renovate it and turn it into offices for small businesses.
The current designation is commercial residential. There are a number of single family dwellings on the surrounding streets, but some houses in the area have also been converted for business use.
Ali suggested the house was a perfect fit for neighbourhood business. It is close to downtown – people seeking the services in the building can walk from other urban locations.
And people living in the area can keep an eye on the property during evening hours when the facility is closed. People taking care of people in the downtown area is a “community building” action.
The house as it stood in 2010 already had a certain charm. The new owners wanted to maintain the footprint of the building.
So, although they raised the second floor to accommodate office layouts (originally the second floor contained bedrooms), they did not increase the size of the building on the lot.
A basement wall was also replaced. Ali said that the owners wanted to transform the house, not replace it. They saw the potential in the original building.
The building has been painted and brightened up. Beautiful warm oranges and yellows inside and out will sparkle up any cold winter day. And the colours will enhance a summer’s evening on the street.
The owners lovingly refurbished the original hardwood floor in a front office. The renovations were largely completed by the owners themselves, with specialized work such as electrical completed by contractors.
As the building’s new tenants prepare to move in, inspections need to be closed off and the last renovations completed.
The name of the house is interesting: Fenix House – a variant of the mythological “phoenix” symbolizing transformation or rebirth.
Fenix House will house two lawyers, an environmental engineer and an environmental consultant. It will add a new dimension to the street; an interesting mix of business and residential in an older section of Whitehorse.
The owners are so happy with the enthusiasm created by the renovations – Fenix House is already living up to its name.