The City of Kamloops confirmed on Friday afternoon (Oct. 1) that it has solely purchased the Northbridge Hotel, located on Tranquille Road in North Kamloops, as well as an adjacent property.
The city said the $7.15-million package purchase will pave way for a future BC Housing project and redevelopment opportunity to help rehabilitate the Tranquille Market corridor.
The city purchased 377 Tranquille Rd. (home to the hotel) and 346 Campbell Ave. ( a one-acre parcel of land behind the hotel that has a vacant building on it).
The sale was concluded on Sept. 22. The listing price from Re/Max Real Estate was $7.49 million.
The city purchased the property with funds from its housing reserve fund. The amount of money in that reserve was not immediately available at Friday’s press conference.
Amidst some criticism over the price tag, with the purchase price well above assessed value of $3.1 million, Mayor Ken Christian said the properties were appraised at $6.1 million.
He said the city paid above the appraised value, but noted the purchase price ($7.15 million) was a bit less than asking price ($7.49 million).
The city said it has a letter of commitment from BC Housing to purchase the vacant Campbell Avenue property for affordable housing at a future date and expects it would house first people currently living in 60 to 65 units in the Northbridge Hotel.
Christian said BC Housing expressed an interest in the property, but was caught between budget cycles and did not have the money to purchase the land, so the city purchased it with the intention of selling to BC Housing in the future.
“You have to jump on real estate opportunities when they come,” Christian said.
Asked about the urgency to purchase the property, which has been listed for some time, he said: “The urgency is I guess always there with real estate that someone else will buy it.”
The city hopes to see redevelopment of the old Tranquille Road-facing hotel that aligns with its vision for the Tranquille Market corridor.
The city is currently undergoing a significant planning exercise for the North Shore, envisioning the Tranquille Market corridor as being the primary “commercial, cultural and economic hub” of the area that includes a mix of retail, office, entertainment, residential and community uses.
Christian compared purchase of the property to the city’s previous purchase of the Kamloops Daily News property downtown, which he described as an asset held by the city.
“That is an opportunity that fits nicely into redevelopment of the North Shore,” Christian said. “We want that. We want to be able to hold that property and advance that property to the market to respond with a development that I think everybody on the North Shore would be excited about.”
Council made the decision unanimously behind closed doors.
Christian said two properties on Tranquille Road are integral to corridor rehabilitation — the Northbridge Hotel property it just purchased and a vacant lot adjacent to Bright Eye Brewing. Arpa Investments previously announced plans for that portion of the corridor, which could see a hotel rise on the corner of Tranquille Road and Clapperton Avenue.
The Northbridge Hotel has between 60 and 65 units and tenants will continue to reside on the property for the foreseeable future. The city will later announce an operator for the building. Eventually, the city hopes to see the property redeveloped for market housing, Christian said.
“Some concepts are being floated around,” he said. “It’s much too early to talk about those. One of those things we see is the potential of commercial on the ground floor and several floors of housing above that.”
Christian noted a need for housing in Kamloops that ranges from the hard-to-house to seniors to students to families. The breakdown of the number of units of social housing and market housing is not clear.
Asked what he would say to people who might be angry about the purchase of this property, following criticism over BC Housing’s purchase of the nearby Fortune Motel, Christian reiterated that the two deals are different and the city’s purchase is “part of the redevelopment of the North Shore.”
Christian said the North Shore Business Improvement Association has given its support.