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Landlord seizes AlpenRock

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By Shari Burnett

AlpenRock has been the subject of rumors and controversy since opening just two years ago, but its problems may be over forever.

The 30,000 square foot entertainment facility has been plagued by licensing and zoning issues, high staff turn over – even theft. Rumours began to circulate again last week as the doors were closed through the week with no signs indicating whether it would open for business on the weekend. Is AlpenRock renovating? Are they finally implementing some of the licensing changes they’ve been lobbying for? Are they closing down?

The answer to all the above questions is "no" according to MagiCorp Entertainment Inc., AlpenRock’s parent company.

"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out to Whistler and people have come up to me and said ‘I heard you were closing down’ and that’s certainly not the case. We’ve always been committed to the venue. There’s lots of potential. It’s a great space. And nothing has changed in that regard," Eugene Mallay, vice president of MagiCorp operations, told Pique Monday from his Toronto office.

However, the landlord’s seizure of the space on Thursday, Sept. 13 indicates AlpenRock’s days are over.

West-Vancouver-based Larco Investments Inc. obviously anticipated taking control of the building prior to Sept. 13; the space was advertised for lease in newspapers that same day.

"We hope to have the space reopened very soon. We already have several interested parties," said Jonathan Lazar, Larco’s manager of commercial leasing. Lazar offered no comment on whether the matter could be resolved with MagiCorp.

Mallay admits MagiCorp was behind on its rent but says Larco did not provide proper notice before seizing the building.

"If they had provided advance warning we would have been in a position to bring the account current and nothing would have happened. We are, to say the least, outraged. We’re appalled and offended by their actions and we will be pursuing the protection of our rights," said Mallay.

Lazar confirmed MagiCorp was three months behind in rent but says it had sent several letters to its tenant requesting payment.

Mallay said MagiCorp planned on opening AlpenRock on weekends only through the shoulder season, but returning to full operation once the ski season started.

"We were restructuring some of the inside as part of the continual changes coming out of the zoning change," Mallay said. "We didn’t get the chance to implement what we would have liked last winter because the zoning change came at the end of December, so there wasn’t enough time to do anything. So prior to this winter we wanted to take advantage of what the zoning changes allowed us to do."

Those changes would have been minimal. Although the municipality has approved rezoning, AlpenRock is still waiting on provincial approval for changes to its liquor licence, which would allow alcohol service in its bowling alley and restructuring of the restaurant and bar seating.

AlpenRock had invested heavily in its lighting and sound system with the intention of hosting well-known music acts. There have been no such acts this year, as AlpenRock couldn’t fund larger events with just the 147 licensed bar seats.

When the licensing changes are approved, the restaurant and bar spaces will be combined to allow for more licensed seats in one area. Mallay speculated those renovations wouldn’t begin until fall 2002. Now, however, they may not happen at all.

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