KAMLOOPS — As this is being written, there has been no cause established for a fire Friday night that destroyed the home of the old Brass Kettle Restaurant at the intersection of Pacific Way and Hugh Allan Drive. The building has been vacant for years. In its heyday, the Brass Kettle was a very popular restaurant, but over time, the restaurant closed, and has, except for a few minor resurrections, stayed that way for many years.
Over that time, it generally turned into an eyesore, and many wondered what would ever become of the place. There had been talk, when the Gaglardi family purchased it, that it would become a Moxie’s restaurant. But eventually, Tom Gaglardi opted to build first downtown, and the Sandman Signature contained a new Moxie’s instead. The property is believed to have passed out of the Gaglardi family’s hands last year.
But it doesn’t really matter who owns the property. Obviously my headline is a bit tongue in cheek, but in reality, who would buy that piece of property to develop something on it? The City has literally boxed it in with new traffic lanes, traffic islands, concrete medians and just about every other hindrance you could find to make that property inaccessible. One thing about retail, if you don’t provide good access, you don’t get customers. And access to that property sucks. It’s bad enough for businesses already along that short stretch of road, where customers can’t access properties on the south side without having to go a block up, around a roundabout, and then back to get into the businesses there. If you are heading westbound on Hugh Allan to get onto the Trans Canada Highway, you have an extremely short stretch of road to cut across lanes and be able to reach the highway access. If you wanted to get into the old restaurant site, it would be almost impossible. You can't even get off the highway without having to go up around the roundabout to get going in the direction you want to go.
Traffic flow is important in the city. And we must do what we can to improve it. The work that was done in that area has not improved it. And to top it off, it is harder than ever for businesses to survive. And the old Brass Kettle property has been made so isolated I honestly can’t see a business trying to take a chance with anything there.
There are other similar areas in the city where access is poor, but this spot might be the worst. In fact, to be fair to the owners, I would suggest the City should buy the property and turn it into a green space and leave it undeveloped. What else could work? Maybe the brain trust at City Hall can come up with something. It’s pretty obvious that potential developers over the years haven’t been able to find anything that might have a chance at success.