Lorraine Bodnarek living her authentic self in a city she loves
Born and raised in northern Alberta, Lorraine Bodnarek spent her childhood being involved in every sport possible, as well as many church and community initiatives. That’s what started this entrepreneurial spirit, inspired by strong, Alberta-made work ethics and a great sense of belonging to her community. With hard working parents whose background includes French, Cree, Scottish and English roots, Lorraine was raised in a family where work ethics, loyalty to family and friends, and faith were pillars of the house. Lorraine has 6 kids, 6 grandkids, keeps busy with work projects related to the Pendennis building, and sits on the board of St. Michael’s Health Group.
What was your first job?
My first job was babysitting at 12 years old, and working at my dad’s garage in the summers. I also worked in fast food, as a waitress in high school after hours, and as a lifeguard and swim instructor for many years. I graduated from grade 12 at Concordia College at 17, and then attended Grant MacEwan College and graduated with a 2-year Business Diploma. I later returned to the University of Alberta to complete my Business Degree.
Where did your career take you?
My career has allowed me to work for some large corporations, including Project Manager for IBM for over 10 years, as Manager of Real Estate and IT for Finning Canada, and as VP of Commercial Development for Landrex Developers for over 10 years. During my years at Landrex, my husband and I started our own development company back in 2009, and partnered with Landrex (and still do) on commercial, multi-family and seniors’ developments. My husband and business partner (and his best friend) founded and built Delnor Construction Ltd. in 1983. They will be celebrating 40 years of business this June so our interests and backgrounds are very similar having met through work.
How did you decide to get into the restoration of the Pendennis building?
The Pendennis building was familiar to me when UCAMA was trying to redevelop it as a Ukrainian Canadian Archives Museum, as I was asked to step in and assist when the project went sideways and the funding ran out to complete the building. I tried to work with many of the local Ukrainian groups in Edmonton together with John Chomiak (founder of Hemisphere Engineering) but we were unable to save the project, and the building then sat vacant and became unsafe and further dilapidated from 2015 to 2018. We purchased the building as a judicial sale as we knew of the beauty, the history, and the incredible potential of this amazing structure.
What was the most challenging part of that process?
We finished the majority of the redevelopment in 2020-2021 and were faced with a worldwide pandemic. Our business plan originally included a tenant from California who was creating a new IT concept and signed an Offer to Lease for the entire building. We also partnered with Douglas Cardinal and his team to relocate his Unceded – Voices of the Land Indigenous Exhibit from the Canadian Museum of History from Ottawa. The business plan was extremely exciting until Covid interrupted international travel, access to funding (from Canada/USA) and the valid hesitation of the tenants’ investors who were primarily stateside.
In 2022, we had to pivot and determine we would concentrate on creating a PREMIUM Event space in Edmonton. Since May of 2022, we changed our marketing and focus to attract local corporations, not-for-profits, art shows, markets, and the music, fashion and film industry along with providing a space for smaller community, indigenous and minority groups to host events. We have also hosted multiple weddings, parties and private celebrations and attracted a highly reputable full-time tenant (Pendennis Weddings and Events Ltd.) who are hosting weddings, bridal parties, showers and celebrations on the 3rd and 4th floors.
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What is your favorite thing about downtown Edmonton?
My favorite thing(s) about downtown are the small business community members, the amazing food experience, a growing music scene, and the small breweries popping up everywhere. We tend to support small independent businesses as much as possible and you will not ever see an Amazon delivery truck at my house. I love the owners who take pride in their stores and work very hard to attract new customers and keep the current ones. And I admire the dedication and heartbreak for so many who struggled through COVID as we have. My favorite part of Edmonton is our amazing river valley as we spend many hours walking, biking to many festivals and parties in and around downtown. We are lucky to live in the area adjacent to our river valley and take advantage whenever we can.
How do you spend your downtime?
My downtime is spent with family and friends, hanging at the cabin or around downtown in the summer. We travel to Arizona regularly and love to have our kids and grandkids join us as much as possible. We have been to Europe, and are off to Spain this May, and travel to see family in Toronto and the US a lot. My favorite place to be is always home; Edmonton, a city that has given us a lot!
Your top three luxuries?
My luxury things are my family, my friends and my faith. Without ALL THREE of these luxuries (and they are luxuries as not everyone has the good fortune to enjoy all), none of the other things we do each day would be worth the investment of our time or our financial commitment. My husband and I try to give back as much as possible to our community and to organizations that align with our morals and our belief that everyone needs a helping hand at times. Coupled with some hard work, a strong support system, and some love along the way, all things are possible.
We have worked hard but we have also had a lot of help, some luck, and a lot of support. We have endured many setbacks both personally and professionally, and each time we go back a few steps, we have to remember these things make us more humble, help make us better parents, better partners, better friends and community members, and more forgiving.
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