Citta' renovations part of village makeover 

Crytal Lodge investing significant capital in building upgrades

Renovations and upgrades to the space occupied by Citta’ Bistro are just one part of a “revitalization of the Village Stroll and Square,” according to Bryan Pilbeam.

The general manager of the Crystal Lodge and Suites, the landlord of the space that Citta’ currently inhabits, said in an interview with Pique that renovations to the space are just another stage of a long-standing facelift for the stroll and the square.

“The property itself has been enhanced significantly over the last three or four years,” he said. “Major renovations to the storefronts… right along the stroll, as well as the rooms themselves, as well as the internal parts of the hotel, such as the lobby and some public areas. There’s been a significant capital investment in that.”

The Crystal Lodge building forms a key part of the Whistler Village Square. It boasts the biggest outdoor patio in the square. Eight months from now, Pilbeam stresses that the patio will remain, but the outside of the building may look a little different.

“Consistent with the rest of the stroll, we’ve got new wood and granite front fixtures to it,” he said. “It’s slightly reconstructed, and of course that’s pending approval, but of course the front or façade of the restaurant space will be enhanced significantly.”

The renovations haven’t come without some dread on the part of the current tenants. The Citta’ lease is up at the end of February, as is a permit to use a non-conforming space for food and beverage storage. Currently the bistro uses a crawl space within a storage area for food and beverage storage, according to Pilbeam. The fire department has allowed that non-conforming space permit to remain in place until February.

Thus far Scott Gadsby, general manager of Citta’ Bistro, says he hasn’t gotten any indication from his landlord that the lease will be renewed.

Pilbeam said in a Dec. 29 news release that the renovation of the Citta’ space is still in its “design panel stage,” meaning it’s under consideration by the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s advisory design panel. And until that panel okays the landlord’s renovations, they can’t negotiate a new lease.

Pilbeam, however, said the renovations will work within existing guidelines set down by the RMOW.

“I can’t get into too much detail because it’s not been approved,” he said. “It’s going to continue to work within the village design guidelines and the (Village) Enhancement Strategy, really just the trademarks of what we’re trying to achieve in Whistler as well as what we’ve already done through the rest of the Village Stroll storefronts.”

The RMOW’s department of planning and development services in November of 2001 finalized the Whistler Village Enhancement Strategy. It’s a document that aims to ensure the village provides residents and visitors with a “unique, world-class ‘Whistler’ experience.”

Part of that strategy includes addressing maintenance issues related to the aging of the old Whistler Village area, as well as pursuing “unrealized opportunities” related to the original development of the village.

Once adopted, there were “significant” investments in the Whistler Village Square, according to Mike Kirkegaard, director of resort planning for the RMOW.

“The municipality undertook a pretty significant capital investment in renovation at that time to upgrade Village Square,” he said. “Village Square was recognized as the first major capital commitment by the municipality to enhance the plaza there and seating opportunities and amenities in that space.”

Whether Citta’ continues to form part of that strategy is up in the air at the moment. The bistro will have to close for six months during the renovation but Pilbeam said in his news release that it’s possible that Citta’ will occupy the space once it’s finished — but he wouldn’t comment on other prospective tenants interested in the space.

“Of course I can’t comment on that,” he said.

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