It’s commonly known as the bus barn, but it’s been a long time since it actually served that purpose.
But this fall the old building at 199 Ellis Street has a new lease on life, as FitKidz Gymnastics club has taken it over as their new permanent location.
Owner Annette Card had her first day of operation Tuesday and was enthusiastic about the new digs.
“We were extremely busy and it was a lot of fun,” said Card. “The kids were organized, or looked like they were organized anyway, and people are really happy that we moved to the downtown location.”
Last year, FitKidz was based in a building at Penticton airport, and Card said she is already hearing about how much more convenient the new location is, close to downtown businesses and amenities.
Card said they will now be able to use the beach, Gyro Park and get more involved with the Farmers’ Market, all within a short walk from the building.
“There are so many events going on for children or families throughout the summer,” said Card, noting they are also very close to the Children’s Festival when it renews operations.
Card said she first applied to lease the building from the City of Penticton 18 years ago, but at that time, they weren’t sure if they were going to find another use for the 7,800 square foot building or tear it down.
Card jumped at the chance when she heard the city was again looking for a tenant. This time, she said, the city has been very supportive, since her operation meshes with the city’s goals of making the downtown core a more vibrant place and draw in more people.
“Last year we ended up with a membership close to 700 kids so that obviously brings some people to the downtown,” said Card.
Working with the city, Card said they have done extensive renovations to the building, not just paint, but installing new heaters, insulation, lighting, even washrooms. The outside of the building will be repainted in the spring.
Card has a five-year lease on the bus barn and says she’s got no plans to move on.
“We’re stuck, we’re no longer moving, we’re going to stay there,” she said.
But Card said she also wants to keep building’s history alive, which was built in the early 70s as a Greyhound bus repair station.
“One of our grandparents used to work for Greyhound in that particular building. I think it was built in 1972 and it has been sitting empty since the 1980s,” said Card.
For more information about Fit Kidz programs, call 250-486-5348.