Kelson Group updates plans for multi-million downtown Kamloops development

Ambitious downtown plans

Kelson Group has released new plans for City Gardens, its multi-million dollar downtown Kamloops development.

The project is planned to cover an area between Fourth and Fifth avenues, from Battle Street past Nicola Street. It will involve the construction of two high rises, 18 and 22 storeys tall, alongside other multifamily structures along with residential and commercial spaces.

Jason Fawcett, president of Kelson Group, said he is excited for some of the changes made to the original plan that was released September.

“We’re really excited to be able to offer the first two new highrises in downtown Kamloops for many years, and in addition to that, we'll have four wood frame buildings about six storeys, and in total that will come up to a little over 500 apartments,” Fawcett said.

“With the design of the towers, we have changed from our original plan in September and we're really excited about some of the brighter colours that we've chosen. And we've got this wavy feature that we're able to do with the balconies that we think is going to be much more interesting.”

Fawcett said the project will include rental suites and units for sale. The ratio is yet to be determined, but he believes 60 to 65 per cent will be condominiums up for sale.

He said the cost of high rise construction is significant, and some of the apartments will be on the more expensive side compared to typical lower-rise wood-frame condo buildings.

“We’re going to do our best to offer them at a price that makes sense for people in Kamloops,” Fawcett said.

“We're planning on offering a variety of sizes of the apartments. And hopefully that will make sense for lots of people that are trying to break into the housing market.”

In the original design, the project had proposed closing off Nicola Street, but that was changed after more research and feedback from the community, according to Fawcett.

“We also learned there were some issues with utilities and sewer pipes and other things that are in the road and, after looking at our plan, we thought it would be better just to keep Nicola Street open. As a result that we think it's going to become a more inviting development,” he said.

“With our previous plan ... we just thought that wouldn't be as welcoming and as much of a thoroughfare, and may lead to potentially us looking like more of an exclusive gated community. With our revised plan, we're planning out a new plaza between the two high rises that we think will be a great gathering area for our residents and the community in general. And we just think that's a better option for downtown."

Fawcett said Kelson Group received some concerns from the community regarding saving a couple of older homes that are located in the area proposed for development.

He said, unfortunately, the homes are in rough shape and cannot be saved. But Fawcett said Kelson Group is looking at paying up to $50,000 towards some of the moving costs if a community member or group would like to move the houses to a different location.

He said the company is also proposing to build a gazebo next to one of the towers that would be a display area for pictures and memories of heritage homes in Kamloops — an idea that has been brought forward to the city and the museum.

“Within this gazebo, maybe we can use some of the salvage materials from the older homes, whether it's brick and there's some stained glass or some of the wood,” he said.

“We do want to preserve the memories of our local area, and we think this might be a great opportunity to provide that amenity for the residents and the entire community.”

Kelson Group is planning an online meeting for Monday at 5 p.m. to present the new design, gather community feedback and answer questions.

“We’re hoping as many people can attend as possible to come with their questions and comments. We're going to have our architects to answer questions and go over the details,” Fawcett said.

Fawcett said after the company receives and considers community input, it will be applying for development permits in early April.

If approval is granted, Fawcett said Kelson Group will start pre-sales for the 22-storey building in the fall, with a goal of beginning construction in about s year — March or April of 2022.

For more information on the project or to register for the virtual webinar, click here.

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