A massive, multi-million-dollar plan to redevelop a portion of downtown Kamloops has been revised to add more suites for sale and rent and to keep open a street that had initially been targeted for closure.
Kelson Group has released modifications to its $140-million City Gardens proposal, a plan that would occupy 1.5 blocks of real estate south of Battle Street, between Fourth and Fifth avenues, and be home to the two tallest buildings in the Kamloops skyline — residential towers standing 18 and 22 storeys.
Initially, the development had a mix of housing options, with 435 suites for sale or rent. The revised plan now includes more than 500 suites. The original plan envisioned the need to close the 400-block of Nicola Street. The company said the revised plan reflects some of the community’s concerns about parking and traffic flow, with the plans modified so Nicola Street remains open.
Kelson said the design concept has a pedestrian-first focus.
The City Gardens project was first unveiled in September of 2020. Since then, there have been modifications to the original plan based on community feedback.
Kelson Group will now re-engage with the community to show the new plans, receive input and submit a development permit application to the City of Kamloops.
“We have had the opportunity to pause and reflect on our vision for City Gardens,” Kelson Group president Jason Fawcett said. “Since announcing our initial plans last fall, we have asked the community for their feedback and to gauge the collective level of interest. This input has helped us revise our plans to better reflect what our community has told us is important to them and what potential purchasers want.
“Our goal has always been to create a vibrant urban environment enhanced with green spaces and beautiful landscaping. Similar to the originally released plan, we are focused to ensure the development fits into the city’s plans for the downtown core. We aspire to enhance the great culture of our downtown and help fill a need for housing for people who work at the hospital and in offices downtown. We also see this as an ideal development for young families and retirees because everything is so accessible from this central location.”
Kelson Group’s survey is still open for feedback, online at kelsondowntownproject.ca, and the revised rendering and visuals are there to view. The company has been attending a series of meetings with downtown businesses and neighbourhood associations and will be hosting a virtual community information session for those interested to learn more. Justin Dyck, Station One Architects’ lead architect on the project, will be on the Zoom call to answer questions.
It will take place on Monday, March 29, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. To register for the virtual session and to submit questions, go to kelsondowntownproject.ca. For those who cannot attend the Zoom meeting, questions and feedback can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it was announced last September, City Gardens was forecast to include a 22-storey and an 18-storey tower, three apartment buildings rising to four or five storeys each and and six townhomes. The land area exceeds 150,000 square feet (about 3.5 acres) and the design concept at that time had 445,000 square feet of residential space for as many as 1,000 residents once built out. If it goes ahead, City Gardens will see 18 single-family residences bulldozed to make way for the new development.
Two existing apartment buildings — The Pines Apartments, a 10-storey residential rental tower on Battle Street and Fourth Avenue, and The Windsor, a three-storey 50-plus condo building on Nicola Street and Fourth Avenue —will remain within the City Garden footprint.
Kamloops-based Kelson Group is one of the biggest landlords in Western Canada. The company owns and operates more than two dozen apartment buildings in Kamloops and others in cities across B.C. and Alberta.
The groundwork for City Gardens was laid in 2017, when Kelson Group spent $25 million buying up land and properties in the downtown core, including The Pines and The Oaks, a 10-storey apartment building at the southeast corner of Battle and Fourth.
City Gardens plans released last September call for social gathering spaces, like outdoor kitchens, lounge seating and workout stations, a linear park with bench seating and walking paths, a terrace garden, water features, a zen garden, an amphitheatre, a dog run area and a natural play park area.
But it will not be a place where vehicle use is limited or discouraged, as plans from September included as many as 600 parking stalls.
The entire project is anticipated to take six to seven years to complete.