For more than two decades, the Flin Flon Hotel has sat vacant at Main Street and First Avenue. If a trio of Flin Flon-based entrepreneurs get their way, it will be commercially viable once again.
Janice Kryschuk, Chandra Morgan and Jamie Szocs have purchased the building and plan to reopen it as an indoor recreation facility within the next year. According to the group’s plans, the ground floor of the hotel will house a bowling alley, lounge, restaurant and a virtual reality arcade on the site formerly occupied by the hotel’s famed restaurant and bar. No bowling alley has operated in Flin Flon since the closure of Pinhead’s Bowling Lanes in 2009.
Morgan and Szocs made a presentation to members of Flin Flon City Council during their Dec. 4 meeting, showing their plans for the building site.
“We want to offer a service for Flin Flon, Denare Beach, Creighton and all the surrounding areas, where it will be a safe place for people to come. We want people to come in the door and just know that they’re going to have fun. That’s what it’s all about,” said Szocs.
Morgan and Szocs said the group had been looking for a space to open a bowling alley in Flin Flon for about a year before finding an advertisement for the City of Flin Flon’s annual tax auction earlier this fall.
“We’d already got our business plan started and we had figures calculated. At first, we were planning on bringing in a steel building and put it up here, but that was going to be so expensive. When we saw the Flin Flon Hotel come up, it was a really good thing,” said Szocs.
The group plans to carry out the revitalization in three stages. Before installing the bowling lanes and restoring some of the former restaurant and bar area, they will remove some portions of drywall on the main floor, opening up the serpentine hallways around the hotel’s former front desk area.
Once the ground floor is operational, existing rooms on the hotel’s second and third floors will be renovated for use as rental suites. Considering its close location to local health facilities, Szocs said the group may market the new suites as a home for incoming health professionals. The hotel is less than a kilometre away from Flin Flon General Hospital, the Flin Flon Personal Care Home and the Public Health Office.
The building itself has been mostly abandoned since the hotel shut down in 1998. Inside, the passage of time is visible if you look for the signs. Some areas, particularly on the main level, show visible mould on the walls. A few windows along the ground floor have cracks and there is water damage caused by deterioration of the building’s roof.
Szocs said the damage can all be fixed, adding that mould remediation, roof and water damage repair, glass replacement and repairs to the building’s plumbing and electrical systems are all part of their plans.
“There was nothing deep. Everything was easily removable. We were pleasantly surprised, let’s say,” she said.
“When I went in there, I was expecting the worst. I went in and I was really pleasantly surprised. Some of the rooms are still okay. Some have water damage because they remodelled the rooms and didn’t fix the roof.”
Many of the suites upstairs still have the same furniture and appliances – including cathode ray tube televisions – that they had when the hotel closed to the public. In the basement storage area, a wall calendar for 1997 is still tacked to the wall.
One of the biggest hurdles to clear before the building reopens regards the tax bill that went along with its purchase. More than $30,000 in back taxes have been applied to the building since its closure. During the council meeting on Dec. 4, the new owners asked the city to consider forgiving the debt and providing an eight-year tax exemption on the site once it is opened. The request was referred to the city finance committee.
Szocs said feedback from people who know of the project was overwhelmingly positive, adding they are open to suggestions for how to further improve the facility.
“I think Flin Flon really needs something like this. I’ve heard nothing but good comments,” she said.
One thing is set in stone, however: the name for the site.
Szocs said the new building will carry the nickname of the old hotel as its official title, christening it “The Flon.”
“I was born and raised here. The hotel has quite a reputation, let’s just say that,” said Szocs.
The group hopes to have the main floor bowling alley area in operation by summer 2019.