Shambhala starts work on new development in Nelson

In 2013, Shambhala Music Festival purchased the old Savoy Inn in Nelson to develop their own nightclub, restaurant and much more

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For five days out of the year, Shambhala Music Festival becomes the largest city in the Kootenays over a five-day period. Almost 10,000 people gather at the Salmo River Ranch to experience this magical electronic music festival that has been a staple of Kootenay culture since 1998. Now, can you imagine Shambhala all year round?

This past summer, the Shambhala team purchased the old Savoy Inn on Baker Street in Nelson for a new development that will be open year-round and provide another venue for live music in the heritage city. Although he doesn't want to give too much away, president Jimmy Bundschuh is excited to restore and re-open the building, which was damaged by a fire in 2007.

"We are not going to repurpose the building," said Bundschuh. "We're pretty much going to put it back to what it was. The building has a nightclub, lounge, restaurant and accommodations."

The fire originated in the Mazatlan Restaurant and the entire building has been closed since the incident. The insurance company did the clean-up, so when Bundschuh bought the property it was already in a stripped-down state.

"It's a major renovation," he said. "We need to put in all new electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC, finishing, basically everything. We just got started on some demolition and got our structural permit. The work started at the beginning of January, which is really exciting."

Since the project is so large in scope, Bundschuh cannot name an opening date yet.

"I really don't know how long this is going to take," he said. "I wish I knew. It's a very complex job. All the design work is done, so we're pretty much ready to get going."

Steven Kaup of Studio 9 in Nelson is the architect for the development and Bundschuh said they are working closely with him and the City of Nelson, along with a few engineers, to come up with a plan.

Bringing more live music to Nelson

As for the music that will be played in the 300-person nightclub, Bundschuh said all styles of music are going to be welcome and encouraged.

"We are definitely going to bring the incredible skills we have developed at the festival in regards to the quality of sound and lighting effects," he said. "We will be bringing artists in that play at Shambhala to the club, but we are not limiting the music to just electronic. We want to bring in bands and music of all types, anything the people of the Kootenays want to see."

Bundschuh said this new development will mean Shambhala will go from being open one week a year to being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"I think people are really excited, especially since the Royal on Baker closed down and this bar was closed for the last few years," Bundschuh said. "Nelson hasn't had this little selection of music venues probably in a hundred years. It's good for Nelson to have diversity and we want to work with the other bars and venues to make Nelson better as a whole. Having more diversity is better for everyone and we want to bring Nelson back as the place to come and see live music."

It's Shambhala's goal to hire local. The company will be hiring 30 to 50 full and part-time staff. During the construction phase, it will continue to use local contractors and construction companies.

Karen Kornelsen

Karen Kornelsen, a writer for Kootenay Business Magazine, has a degree in jounalism. She enjoys finding and reporting the news from the business community. View all of Karen Kornelsen’s articles

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