Primewest buys Hilton retail space 

Vancouver-based Primewest Partners has purchased approximately 40,000 square feet of retail space adjacent to the Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa for $25.13 million.

The retail space, which includes tenants Lululemon, Peak Performance, The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, L'Occitane, Teppan Village and a number of art galleries, was purchased from WW Hotels (Whistler) Limited Partnership, which is partially owned and managed by Goldman Sachs.

"This transaction is a reflection of Primewest's opportunity driven business strategy," Paul Williams, Primewest president and CEO, said in a release issued Monday.

"We continue to search for prime real estate opportunities which have considerable upside in the near term."

The property was built in 1982, when the hotel was operated under the Delta brand. The retail space was part of a $52 million upgrade in 2005, when the hotel reopened under the Hilton banner.

Primewest Partners is a Vancouver-based real estate company focused on asset and property management, acquisitions, development and leasing services.


Movie Gallery bows out
Rogers Video now has a stranglehold on the video rental market in Whistler - Movie Gallery has officially left town.

Lynda Clark, the property manager for Franz's Trail, said contrary to rumours, the closing of Movie Gallery has nothing to do with the Olympics.

"Movie Gallery didn't renew their lease, it's quite as simple as that. They had a renewal on their lease and they decided not to."

Just under two years ago Movie Gallery Inc., the Alabama-based parent company, applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States. That allows businesses to reorganize themselves with a plan to stay alive and pay off creditors over time.

But judging by Movie Gallery's customer service line, it seems that difficult economic times ate up the Franz's Trail location rather than its parent company's woes.

Jim, a customer service rep, said during a brief call that the closing of the Franz's Trail location had to do with the fact that the lease was up, and it wasn't cost-effective to renew it.

Clark said an increase in the lease rate was never proposed to her now-former tenants. It was simply a matter of them choosing not to renew it.

"Most commercial leases are three to five years," she said. "When your lease comes to the end of its term, you have a choice. You can either renew your lease or you cannot renew your lease and leave."

The departure of Movie Gallery leaves Rogers Video as the only game in town, if you don't count online services like iTunes and Netflix.


Home-grown printing
In these tough economic times, the rallying cry for individual economies has been "buy local!"

Now, if you're looking to apply an original design to a piece of clothing, the guy to ask is Dan Curtis. He's a Whistler entrepreneur who operates OJeeze Design Firm, a company that specializes in numerous design services including screen printing, which involves placing ink on "basically anything," according to Curtis.

Big fan of Coen brothers movies? No problem. OJeeze has already designed a shirt with the words "Mark it zero" across the front and a picture of the Big Lebowski's Walter Sobchak across the front.

Didn't like that film and want to creep out some friends? No problem. He could probably make a shirt with the words "Call it" across the front and a picture of No Country for Old Men's Anton Chigurh beneath it.

Other services offered by OJeeze include graphic design; sublimation, which involves printing photographic quality images on to almost any surface; and glass etching.

"We can print on anything, basically," Curtis said in an interview. "But normally, it is just T-shirts and hoodies at this time. We aren't scared of much and we'd like to continue to grow and continue to design."

What sets the company apart is a personal touch; where most designs are applied to clothing through big machinery, Curtis said his work is done by hand.

"None of our machines are automatic," he said. "We actually have to physically pull the ink across, and so each piece of clothing is personally touched by a printer basically, and so your eye has to look at the print."

Anyone interested in getting some clothing custom-printed is invited to come down to the OJeeze office in Function Junction. They even have a skate ramp indoors, an amenity that has doubled visits to the space.

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