The complexion of St. Albert has changed as one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks was crushed to rubble this week.
Built in 1979 and 1981, the two greenhouses on the former site of Hole’s Greenhouses were past their prime and were replaced two years ago by the new Enjoy Centre. The land itself was divided into three parcels. Two of those parcels have been sold.
The portion next to the Hole family houses remains unsold. The 3.7 acres along the river was sold to Boudreau Developments and will, if approved by city council, have condominiums built on it.
The remaining 5.34 acres, owned by Chrisen Realty Corporation of Edmonton, is the section adjacent to Boudreau Road, and it’s there that the old greenhouses stood.
“The actual major demolition began this week but there are still some foundation pieces that will have to be removed. I don’t expect it will take another two to three weeks for the complete physical demolition to be completed,” said Stu Gillespie, president of Chrisen Realty.
Gillespie said that while the Hole family had recovered some pieces of the old greenhouses for their own use, for the most part the structures were demolished.
“Our plan is by this summer to have construction begin on the new centre. Our vision is for classy, boutique-style stores, ” he said.
Now, instead of saying, “Turn at Hole’s corner,” people will have to change their ways and say, “Turn at The Shops at Boudreau,” which will be the new shopping venue’s new name.
“It’s sad and of course they had sentimental value, but there’s renewal too,” said Jim Hole, of Hole’s Greenhouses.
Jim and his brother Bill grew up on the farm owned by their parents Ted and Lois Hole. Over the years the farm experienced many transitions and changes as the business grew, Hole said.
“The place where the greenhouses were used to be our potato field and we had squash growing at the side of the field. And across the road, where the RCMP building is now, used to be carrots. When it was part of Sturgeon County we used to have a mixed farm with pigs and chickens but as I grew up, it changed,” he said.
Hole also explained that greenhouse technology has improved considerably in the last three decades and there are parts of the old greenhouses that he does not miss.
“There used to be water dripping off the plastic in the old ones,” he said as he also remembered hair-raising climbs to the top of the old greenhouses for ongoing repairs.
“We used to have to climb up on the old plastic greenhouse as the plastic deteriorated. It cost $1,000 a roll for the plastic we used,” he said, adding that the glass panels had to be replaced occasionally on the other greenhouse as well.
Hole is excited about the new enterprise that will be built on the family’s former property.
“It will one of best retail developments in St. Albert and the landscaping will be gorgeous. I also understand there will be an innovative housing project built too,” Hole said. “It will be a change on that corner that is for sure, but it will also be really great, and as for change, I grew up with change.”