THUNDER BAY — Brad McKinnon continues to move forward from the devastating setback he suffered with the destruction of the historic Finnish Labour Temple on Bay Street.
The owner of BK Realty Development hopes to have the exterior walls and roof in place this year for a new building that will house the Hoito Restaurant and the condominiums that were part of his original plan before last December's massive fire.
The City of Thunder Bay recently approved plans and issued permits for the project.
In an interview Wednesday, McKinnon said preparations for pouring concrete are now underway.
"What you're seeing right now is the excavation. And we're currently surveying the walls and the footings for the building pre-construction. Hopefully in the next few days you'll see forms going in and concrete being poured."
Depending on weather conditions, foundations could be done by the end of July and framing could begin in August.
McKinnon wants the building closed before the snow flies so that work can continue through the winter months.
The project consists of three phases, the first being "The Finnish Labour Temple, the front face that we're rebuilding, as well as a portion of the new section of the building," McKinnon said.
He explained that there are plans for two structures.
"Phases one and two will be what you're seeing here. Phase one this summer, and hopefully next year phase two across to the [Bay] credit union and out to Algoma. Phase three will be an additional building where Kivela Bakery used to stand."
The main floor in the first building will have restaurant [Hoito] and other commercial space, while the upper three floors will be residential.
McKinnon said phases one and two will comprise approximately 42 units.
Another 15 to 20 units are projected for the site of the former bakery fronting on Secord Street.
Some sketches of the plans were released last month.
"We have a very aggressive timeline," McKinnon said, adding that he'd like to see the first phase completed within two years.
"It's a very stressful process, trying to plan and coordinate a project of this size. But it's very exciting. We have a lot of community support, and excellent contractors working with us."