Downtown Terrace location pegged for hotel, casino development

But the city-owned land is already subject of sales agreement with another developer

THE company which owns the Chances gaming centre in Terrace has picked a former downtown shopping centre site as it preferred location for a new hotel and casino.

THE company which owns the Chances gaming centre in Terrace has picked a former downtown shopping centre site as it preferred location for a new hotel and casino.

THE OWNER of the Chances gaming centre which wants to expand by adding a hotel and conference centre at a new location has chosen a City of Terrace-owned property that’s already under option to another developer as its preferred site.

At play is a large portion of the former Terrace Co-op property on Greig Ave. bounded by Emerson on the west and Kalum on the east which the city three years ago agreed to sell to Superior Lodging of Calgary for $877,500 provided the city first gets a clean bill of environmental health from the provincial government.

Grande Prairie, Alberta-based Pomeroy Lodging, which purchased Chances from local owners in 2014, has been looking at other locations since then, setting out plans for a hotel and conference centre in addition to an expanded casino.

In a presentation prepared for the May 24 city council meeting, Pomeroy said its “vision is to develop a new entertainment and conference, mixed use development in the Greater Terrace Area with the former Co-op site in downtown Terrace as our first choice.”

“The downtown site will strengthen the vibrancy of Terrace’s downtown core and clean up a previously vacant site in a prime location.”

Its presentation outlined an expenditure of more than $25 million for a 100-room hotel, a conference centre to hold up to 750 people and a Chances facility of 18,000 square feet in size.

Travel plan complications prevented Pomeroy officials from appearing at the May 24 council meeting but in emails sent to The Terrace Standard, one of those officials, Jackie Clayton, confirmed the company’s intentions.

“The facility would be modeled similar to our successful development in Fort St. John which has become a very important element of that community,” she wrote.

That development takes in a Chances facility of 22,000 square feet, a 125-room executive hotel and an 11,500 square foot conference centre.

An aerial photograph of the Co-op location here included in Pomeroy’s information package for city council had spots for a hotel, conference centre, pool and parking drawn in.

Pomeroy would first have to reach an agreement with Superior of Calgary which, when its sales deal with the city was first announced in 2013, included its own plans for a 100-room hotel, meeting rooms, indoor pool and waterslide.

Calls to Superior Lodging have not been immediately returned but Pomeroy’s Clayton said Pomeroy “was very familiar with the existing deal and have had discussions with Superior Lodging regarding their future plans ….”

“We do not have a deal with Superior, right now we are at the proposal stage.”

The city’s own 2013 sales agreement with Superior would see the latter purchase 2.79 acres of the former Co-op property, roughly two-thirds of the location and located in its middle.

It’s contingent upon a number of conditions, chief of which that the city obtain a certificate from the province that the land is free of any contaminants.

The existence of contaminants dates back to the days of a Terrace Co-op shopping centre on the property which included a gasbar on the northeast corner, right across Kalum from the Best Western Terrace Inn.

That specific location is not included in the property the city wants to sell to Superior but it has spent its own money and used provincial grants to determine if any contaminants have seeped underground to the property it does want to sell.

City economic development manager Danielle Myles, in confirming that its sales agreement with Superior is still active, said a consultant it has hired is still completing soil and water sampling leading toward a report to be submitted to provincial environment officials.

“We are hopeful all works can be completed and that we will get our approval from B.C. by end of the year, but there are a number of factors that may impact timelines that are outside of our control – processing time by B.C. for instance,” she said.

At the same time, Myles said the city is proceeding with formally subdividing the eastern end of the Co-op property, which once contained the gasbar, to create the 2.79 acres it wants to sell to Superior.

“That has contamination and at this point, we are not considering sale as further work needs to be done there,” said Myles.

The Greig Ave. location was once the home to a decades-long thriving shopping centre complex owned by the Terrace Co-operative Association.

It contained a grocery store, a hardware store, clothing store, insurance office and cafeteria in addition to the gasbar.

But a combination of changing shopping habits and the collapse of the regional forest industry in the late 1990s forced its closure.

The property was then sold to a private developer and then purchased by the city for $1 million in 2005 in a move considered controversial at the time.

City council of the day said it bought the property so it could have more control over how it should be used, stating it would be the cornerstone for a revived downtown core.

Various plans for renovating the complex were considered and then rejected before the city decided to demolish the structure in 2011.

At that time it said demolishing the structure would make the property more attractive to a prospective developer.