Pinery to break ground on Fish Market renovation

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The Fish Market on the Bijou Street hill west of downtown has been empty for many years.

The Pinery Wedding and Event Center announced today that it is ready to break ground on major renovations to the old Fish Market atop the Bijou Street hill overlooking downtown Colorado Springs.

The long-empty building at 775 E. Bijou St. will be expanded to 22,000 square feet of high-end exclusive wedding and event space called The Pinery on the Hill, according to a release from Pinery Enterprises.

The renovation plan is double the square footage the Pinery was permitted for when it bought the building in 2008, said Colorado Springs City Planner Meggan Herington.

That means there are a few more steps for the company to complete before the redevelopment project is a done deal. To amend the original permit, there has to be a neighborhood meeting where people in the area can voice their concerns. That will be Thursday, Aug. 23 at 5:30 p.m.

Also, because of the additional square footage, The Pinery will have to add more parking. The company has also purchased an adjacent house and will need planning commission and city approval to change the zoning for that lot, Herington said.

The building will be double the originally planned size because of a second floor, she said. That means The Pinery can use the same foundation it planned for in 2008 and the company has already pulled its foundation permit.

The Pinery paid $1.75 million for the building in 2008 with plans to transform it into an event center then. But plans were stalled when the economy bottomed out and the empty building drew controversy about attracting homeless and vandalism.

Pinery COO Eric Allen said in December that the company’s plans for the space had expanded as the Pinery had grown and seen significant success through the recession. The Pinery, a full-service wedding and event space in Black Forest, has grown dramatically in recent years, Allen said in December.

The company has bought out its vendors and can supply couples with everything from the venue and catering to flowers, photographs and websites.

“We did 109 weddings last year and we’re going to do even more this year,” Allen said. “There’s nobody in the country doing what we’re doing.”

When the company looked to expand, it could have gone out and built something new in green fields somewhere in the city, but opted to “up-cycle” the empty real estate instead, according to the release.

The Pinery will transform the old Fish Market building into a wedding and event center and exclusive club.

In addition to hosting weddings, the Pinery will pursue corporate events. Allen said in December said he believed downtown needed more corporate event and meeting space.

Allen said the plans were already in place and that he was about halfway to his goal of raising about $9 million from private investors.

Today, he announced that new location should be open in 2013.