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Hotel, museum recommended for old Co-op property

There should be a blend of public and private developments on the old Terrace Co-op site located just west of the Best Western Terrace Inn, a city task force has determined.

After a year of research and meetings, the group's recommendations include a hotel with restaurant and retail space, a heritage centre, green space, a brew pub and parking.

"The development of the former Co-op property will have a dramatic positive impact to our downtown and our community," said Terrace's mayor Dave Pernarowski after the recommendations were released at a Nov. 26 city council meeting.

"Council will continue to take actions that ensure this happens in the shortest time frame possible."

The site once contained a thriving shopping centre owned by the Terrace Co-operative Association but it closed in the late 1990s when the forest industry collapsed.

Sold at first to a private developer, the city bought it in 2005 and has been trying to figure out a use for the property ever since.

It tore down the shopping centre building a year ago, saying the chances of the property attracting developers was slim as long as the building remained.

"The city should consider contracting an architect to provide a cohesive concept for the property," suggested task force chair Bob Park to council while presenting recommendations. He added that local First Nations could be contacted about building a long house or museum.

Public space would consist of a plaza or square with the remaining property sold to developers to provide tax revenue to the city.

There's incentive for developers through the city's downtown improvement tax exemption which allows for improvements to buildings and property that aren't factored in to taxable value for five years.

Building a hotel is at the top of the recommendation list.

"The need for more hotel rooms is evident in the community," said the report, recommending a 100-room limited service hotel with retail and restaurant space built in.

Next on the list is a heritage centre, which mentions the Terrace's Museum Society's efforts to build a museum and archival space at a minimum of 3,000 square feet in the downtown.

"A museum to store and display artifacts would meet the current zoning and would also complement the George Little House," read the report, which estimated 10,000 square feet of property would fit the museum's needs.

In addition to the museum, a long house or First Nations museum could be built either separately or jointly on the property, requiring up to 20,000 square feet.

Next up, green space is recommended as a use for the property.

"Green space would enhance the aesthetic of the property and would provide some public space," the report reads, suggesting the city look into buying some land from CN Rail along the southern part of the property and extend the Grand Trunk Pathway.

Or, extra space along the Greig Ave. side of the property could be set aside for green space as an inviting place for pedestrians.

A group of local investors wanting to build a brew pub on the property have already signed a purchase option.

Planned is a small brewery with food and entertainment on the northwest corner of the Co-op property near the Western Financial Group and Staples.

"This facility will provide some tax revenue to the city as a private business," reads the report.

Lastly, parking will be required, the report acknowledges.

A single parking area with 280 spaces would fulfill the above recommendations and the report notes that it should not be a focal point of the property. Underground or multi-level parking should be explored to reduce its footprint on the lot.

The report suggests an architect be hired to recreate a downtown focal point.

Earlier this year, famous architect Douglas Cardinal visited for a look at the site and has since sent an estimate of what his services would cost.

For the community consultation and the following concept design the cost to hire Cardinal would be from $20,000 to $30,000 according to an estimate he provided.

At the city council meeting where the report was presented, councillor James Cordeiro who sits on the task force as a council liaison asked if there was any additional benefit to hiring Cardinal above another architect.

Park responded that no specific architect was recommended.

And prior to being developed, a northeastern portion of the property will require environmental remediation as an old gas bar was once located there.

A certificate stating that portion of the property is cleaned up is required from the province and development could likely start by 2014, said the report, recommending this part of the process take priority.

Members on the task force include two city councillors, Cordeiro and Brian Downie; four members at large, Norm Frank, Bert Husband, Neal Lindseth and Wanita Simpson; Sasa Loggin from the Skeena Diversity Society; and chair Bob Park from Terrace's Downtown Improvement Association.

 

 

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