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New development transforms old Ladysmith service centre site

Frank and Mike Crucil, who bought the property in 2019, unveiled their finished project
The new Dalby’s on Dogwood residential building encompasses a lot of Ladysmith’s history. When Frank and Mike Crucil bought the property, part of their vision for the site would be recognition of the property history. Standing in front of the history info panels, the brothers had installed are (from left) sister Linda Crucil, Mike Crucil, mother Evelyn Crucil, Frank Crucil and Lynne Halkett (Dalby). The three panels tell the beginning of the property and then the era of Dalby’s Service and then the third panel tells about the Crucils and their history.

For many years the building and lot could have been classed as Ladysmith’s ugly duckling. But over the last two years there has been a metamorphosis of immense proportions.

This past weekend (June 8 and 9) the old rundown Dalby’s Service Centre on the corner of Forward Road and Dogwood Drive, turned its back on the past and presented itself as a new and distinctive residential complex.
Frank and Mike Crucil, who bought the property in 2019, unveiled their finished project along with some lasting information about the history of the property and the family involved in its past and present. 

In welcoming the crowd that came out to see Dalby’s on Dogwood, Frank Crucil gave some history of the location and the Dalbys, who previously owned the service station on the site.

“Back then everything was done with respect and trust," said Frank. "We could come in and ring up $2 in gas and say we’d come back on payday and pay it off, and that’s the way it worked. When we first got involved in this project, we thought, why don’t we do something unique and build a building that would honour the location and community but also recognizes the history the property has? We surely had our struggles but we worked through them. Our architects did an amazing job with a different piece of property.  We also worked with the town and it went generally well. There are rules, which at time don’t seem to make sense but working together we got this far.”  
As far back as early 2005 testing showed that hydrocarbon pollution from the former service shop were present in the soil and have migrated down Forward Road.

“We worked with the town on fixing up this problem, and with the Ministry of the Environment, it wasn’t easy but what we saw at the end is what we’re seeing today,” Frank told the crowd.

He also thanked Lynn Halkett, the daughter of Howard Dalby, for helping him and his brother gather information for the history. Ed Nicholson, who is the first tenant in the building and also a member of the Historical Society, was also thanked by the Crucils for his input.

“I’m totally happy, this is amazing," said Nicholson. "I’ve downsized and and very glad I did. I was the first so I basically got to pick what I wanted and it’s wonderful. They are not the largest but the view is to die for, and coffee in the morning, on the deck, is always a new experience. I have family history here, as my grandfather was the first property owner in this area.”
The Crucils had three history information panels erected outside in front of the residence. The panels explain the past history of the property along with the history of the Dalby’s presence on the site and the third panel details history of the Crucil family and information about the builders of the new residence. During the unveiling the brothers thanked their parents for their upbringing and how it made it possible for them to succeed and grow and pass those values on to their families.
The two architects of the building, Brian Kapuscinski and Will Melville, said “we’re really proud of how the project turned out. Frank and Mike only wanted quality ingredients so that made it great to work with them.”

“It was a challenge, the lot made it a tight fit, but as both of us know, the tight fits make the choices limited so more time to work on the finer points,” Kapuscinski said.

“Frank and Mike took on a lot with this, the environmental concerns, the streets and traffic, but the more constraints there are the easier it is to find the answers,” Melville said.
Rod Alsop is one of the owners of Bayview Brewing, which is across the street from Dalby’s on Dogwood.

“I like it, they have done a great job. The design and colour is not an impact, there is a nice blend,” he said. 

At the history panel unveiling, Mike Crucil said, “We wanted to be able to be a part of the community and being able to do business in this great town and also be able to give back is really important to us and our families. While doing this project we were able to support the volunteers doing the downtown washrooms, the local improv students, a few youth teams and we enjoy helping.”

“This is really a fine building,” said Kent Knelson who attended the opening. “It looks really good and if more of these residential units are built I hope they learn from this, as it’s quality and value.”

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