Questions about construction, parking and green features were fielded on Monday evening (March 29) by those behind a sizeable development project planned for downtown Kamloops.
Kelson Group and its architecture firm, Station One, met with the public during a virtual information and question-and-answer session for the proposed City Gardens project, which will rise between Battle and Nicola streets and between Fourth and Fifth avenues.
Kelson Group president Jason Fawcett explained the project came to fruition following the purchase of three acres of land in what he called a “growing” and “vibrant” city. The development, consisting of townhomes, apartments and condos for purchase and rent, will be built over six to 10 years, beginning with the largest, 22-storey tower in the spring of 2022. Market conditions will determine whether the next building to rise with be an 18-storey tower or a lower-rise structure.
Asked if the project — expected to cost between $160 million and $180 million to complete — is “aspirational” and whether the company can afford to finance the plans, Fawcett said Kelson Group is going to the market in the fall for pre-sales and requiring public commitment for the project. In addition, the 10-year buildout is a phased out to allow for market absorption and financing.
“At this point, we’re going to work very hard to realize this dream,” Fawcett said.
Station One Architect partner Justin Dyck said the development design was Kelson Group founder Ron Fawcett’s, inspired by gardens and nature, with visions of a “lush oasis in the city.”
It is expected to be pedestrian-friendly, with amenities, pathways, commercial space and a water feature. It is unclear exactly how much green space has been allotted for the development, but the firm said it will be “higher than a typical apartment development.”
Some neighbourhood impacts have already been quelled, including reconsideration of a plan to partially close Nicola Street.
However, other concerns for the area include impact of noise, given the area will essentially become a 10-year-long construction zone.
Fawcett said the company will try to minimize noise and be as sensitive as possible when building. Meanwhile, people live in older houses on Battle and Nicola streets that will be demolished.
Fawcett said the residents renting the homes are of concern, noting the company has tried to keep renters apprised of plans, with at least four months’ notice to be given, compensation in the works for some of their moving costs and potential relocation help.
Some have expressed concern about the cost of the units and whether there will be an affordable housing aspect to the project. The prices have not yet been determined and will depend on construction costs and market demands, the public heard. In addition, Fawcett said the two high-rise towers will be more expensive to build and will likely cost more, with the wooden frame buildings to cost less. Cost will depend on size of the units — ranging from studio to three-bedroom and penthouse suites (one of which in the 22-storey building is earmarked for Ron Fawcett) — and units on higher floors will be more expensive.
Affordable/social housing is not part of the City Gardens development.
Pets will be allowed in the units for purchase and a dog park will be featured on the property. The development will include public and private amenities, with the pathways and plaza area intended to be public and the dog park and other amenities for residents only. Fawcett said the company is exploring options to partner with the neighbouring Kamloops YMCA-YWCA, located across the street on Battle Street.
Kelson Group has estimated some 700 residents could live in the development when the 500-plus units are built out. All parking will be underground, with access off of Battle Street, Fifth Avenue and Nicola Street. The parking allotted exceeds city requirements by between 30 to 40 stalls, the architecture firm said. In addition, an undetermined number of electric vehicle charging stations are planned in the underground parkade.
Step one of the BC Energy Step Code will be followed for building, as currently required by the city, the architecture firm noted.
The response elicited surprise from one online participant, to which the firm replied:
“Every city has the authority to make a certain level of the step code a requirement, but Kamloops does not have this requirement at this time. We currently are working on other projects which have higher step code requirements, based on the local city requirements, so are aware of the implications if higher step code requirements, if they come into effect for future phases of this development, and are confident that the layout would be minimally affected.”
For more information on the project, go online to kelsondowntownproject.ca.