A commercial development announced on Wednesday, Jan. 29, could bring hundreds of new jobs to Kamloops, according to one city councillor.
The first phase of The Hive Kamloops will be a five-storey building at the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Lansdowne Street. Urban Systems has committed to move its head office to the development to anchor the first phase.
The development is slated to include a total of three buildings, eventually occupying just about all of the parking lot to the north and east of the Delta Kamloops, formerly Hotel 540, between Victoria and Lansdowne streets and between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
The trio of buildings will house office space, with retail on the ground floors. There will be no residential units. There will be undgeround and surface parking stalls.
“The hope is this is going to create hundreds of new good-paying, long-term jobs in Kamloops,” Coun. Mike O’Reilly told KTW. “There are a lot of companies that have been looking at Kamloops but there’s nowhere to go. This is the first new office development in Kamloops in more than a decade.”
The announcement comes on the heels of the City of Kamloops' decision to expand its permissive tax exemption bylaw in the downtown and North Kamloops business district to commercial developments.
"The recent changes to the revitalization tax exemption bylaws approved by council contributed to the decision to move the vision for The Hive from a yellow light to a green light," O'Reilly said. "I believe this announcement is just the beginning and I look forward to many more new commercial developments in the downtown and the north shore in the coming years”
A&T Developments principal Frank Quinn said The Hive will be the first office-space development in the city in nearly 20 years.
“One of the biggest issues that Kamloops has had now for the last 18 years — the last time there was new office development in the city — is potential employers are coming to town and looking for A-class space and it just doesn’t exist,” he said.
“Employees are insisting on space that is bike-accessible, open to the outdoors, secure underground parking, windows that open, environmentally friendly, sustainable — and looks sustainable. None of that has existed here, but it has in a whole bunch of other communities.
“Our vision was to build this anchor, the first phase, to show employers that this is going to happen in Kamloops.”
Quinn said the first phase is expected to cost about $20 million. Shovels should be in the ground by May, he said, projecting completion about 18 to 24 months after that.
“It’s a lot of risk, but our hope is that as we move forward, we’ll bring in some big employers,” he said.
Bryan Pilbeam, vice-president of Invictus Properties, said the development was aided by support in the city.
"A project like this doesn’t happen without community support and we thank the city for their leadership and the Downtown and North Shore BIAs for their support in making this new building a reality," he said.
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said the project has the potential to change downtown.
“The Hive development marks a new chapter for our city and will continue the revitalization of downtown Kamloops,” he said. “The building and vision for the site will create new business opportunities for companies based in and out of Kamloops, showcasing the quality of life we enjoy in our city.”
The project has been designed by Vancouver-based architects MCM and will be built by A&T and run by Invictus Properties. Quinn said the idea has been in the works “for several years.”
Urban Systems principal Therese Zulinick said she is looking forward to moving her offices into the space.
“We are excited to continue our work of helping to build vibrant communities,” she said. “Working for 44 years in our spirited hometown, we have seen our community grow and thrive and are looking forward to experiencing this next chapter.”
According to O’Reilly, The Hive has the potential to attract many new businesses that previously passed on Kamloops.
“What we don’t have is high-quality, class-A office space and that’s what national firms and provincial firms are after,” he said. “Right now, Kamloops doesn’t have that.”
Quinn said he hopes to see The Hive accelerate revitalization in the downtown core.
“Our vision for the downtown is a sustainable one, and this building will be built with that in mind,” he said.
“We want to see downtown being a place where people not only live, but really to make it work we have to have people working downtown. Once there are more people working downtown, what will follow this office development is more high-end residential development downtown.”
Quinn said the second phase of The Hive is in the planning stage and developers are in talks with a potential anchor.