I’d like to tell you about the Aviary’s grand opening. Edmonton’s latest arts venue seats 100, hosts concerts and art shows and brews a mean pot of coffee in the morning.

I’d like to tell you this but I cannot because it’s not true yet. “It’s looking like spring of next year is when we’ll be open,” said co-owner Philip Muz, “but I’ve kinda given up on a timeline.”

The Muz brothers are used to setbacks. They purchased The Artery in 2012 and in 2015, they were given sudden notice that their building would be demolished to make way for the LRT expansion.

Philip Muz (pictured) and his brother Mark are still dealing with setbacks. Credit: Dave Von Bieker
Philip Muz (pictured) and his brother Mark are still dealing with setbacks. Credit: Dave Von Bieker

The search for a new home brought them to Queen Mary Park, with great neighbours like The Mercury Room, DC3 Art Projects, and Rogue Wave Coffee. When zoning restrictions struck this option down, the brothers looked at 111 Avenue.

Abandoned buildings elbow in with payday loans and pawn shops along the Norwood strip of 111 Avenue. There are signs of hope, but we can use all the positive energy we can get.

Philip and Mark Muz see potential here. Having been burned by landlords and limitations, the brothers bought their current building. Then more challenges began.

The first hurdle was parking. There is no space for the 26 spots required. With help from the community and Coun. Tony Caterina, a successful appeal led to a variance.  

The brothers are confident they can make Aviary a profitable business, given the chance. Their plan meets a need in our city for affordable, flexible spaces for all-ages events. These venues are difficult to open in Edmonton, thanks in part to zoning and licensing restrictions.

Edmonton has no specific license for a live music venue. Since the Aviary will serve food and alcohol, and host all-ages shows, the closest fit might be as a restaurant—a tricky, $50,000 word. Significant upgrades are required to bring the building up to restaurant code. Sitting across the table from Philip in a room that calls for new creative life, these roadblocks seem unnecessary. There must be a middle ground.

Perhaps upgrades could be completed as revenues roll in. A grandfather period could help businesses ease into the aging and abandoned storefronts in our area that require extra care.

“We’re still very excited about the venue eventually opening,” Philip said. Working to raise money, the brothers will keep “putting on shows at Bellevue Hall and Studio 96 for the time being. As well as building picnic tables, decks and fences.”

There are simple ways we can help. Attend shows, buy a picnic table (they deliver!), or hire them to build your fence or deck. Our new neighbors could use a hand moving in.

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The Aviary Presents “Groovy Times at Bellevue Hall”

Featuring Bombchan, Fever Feel, Cayley Thomas Band, and Tropic Harbour
June 10 at 7:00 pm
$10 in advance at YEGLive.ca

Header Image: The delay in opening the new arts venue is due to bringing the building up to restaurant code. Credit: Dave Von Bieker