A new downtown housing project that will address the need for more seniors and affordable housing in Kamloops will begin to take shape next spring.
Brenda Prevost, operations manager for the Centre for Seniors Information Kamloops, which will own and operate the building, said there will always be a continuous need for more affordable housing in Kamloops for all age groups.
She said her agency has already received about 100 applications for the 112-unit building set to begin rising next spring at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Victoria Street.
The six-storey housing complex will consist of commercial space on the first floor and five floors of affordable housing units above.
Prevost and others, including provincial Minister of Housing Selina Robinson, were at the site on Friday, Nov. 15, for a sod-turning ceremony, celebrating the project moving forward.
Mel Laffrenere, co-owner of Stoni Flats, the development company for the project, said the building will increase the supply of seniors housing in Kamloops, for which there is a demand.
“What we’re finding out [is] a lot of people want to come to Kamloops and retire, but there’s nowhere to come,” he said.
Laffrenere said he hopes to have the building completed a year and eight months from now.
Located at 612, 630, 632 and 634 Victoria St., a vacant movie theatre and other storefronts on the property were bulldozed last January to pave way for the project.
There hasn’t been much activity on the property since demolition, which Laffrenere attributed to the permitting process and the merger of his company, Cactus Flats, with Stoni Developments about five months ago.
In March — or earlier, depending on weather — crews will begin pouring the building’s concrete foundation. A building permit from the City of Kamloops is still pending for the building.
The Centre for Seniors Information is receiving $11.2 million from the province's Community Housing Fund, as well as annual operating funding, for the project.
The development company will retain ownership of the first floor of commercial space.
Robinson said it’s up to Kamloops as to when the next affordable housing project will be built.
“There’ll be another call for proposals coming out this spring, so I’ve been letting community organizations know to get their projects together because we [the B.C. NDP government] are trying to do catch up on a housing crisis that was ignored for a decade-and-a-half,” she said.
The downtown Kamloops building will include 15 studio units, 76 one-bedroom units, 16 one-bedroom-plus-den units and five two-bedroom units, along with underground parking, a central courtyard, two rooftop terraces, amenity rooms, storage areas and laundry.
The projected rent mix will be 22 studios and one-bedroom units for seniors with low incomes, at $375 a month; 56 rent-geared-to-income units (one-bedroom units and one-bedroom-plus-den units) for seniors with low to moderate incomes, at approximately $700 a month; and 34 middle-income units (one-bedroom and one-bedroom-plus-den units, at approximately $1,000 a month and two-bedroom units, at about $1,200 per month.
The building won’t be exclusively for seniors, Prevost told KTW.
“There may be a mom with a baby that can have a one-bedroom — it depends. It depends on who approaches, what their circumstances are, what their income levels are,” she said, noting that information will dictate where they fit into the building.
Prevost said the project got off the ground about a couple of years ago when she was approached by Laffrenere about partnering on a housing development.
The downtown location they ended up purchasing provides seniors and families with easy access to a variety of amenities all within walking distance, Prevost said.
“It’s absolutely prime location in downtown location,” she said. “You can’t get a better location downtown.”
Laffrenere said Stoni Flats Developments is eyeing other locations in town for more seniors housing, including two on the North Shore and another on the south side of the river.