KAMLOOPS — The former Kamloops Daily News building may not be demolished tomorrow, but if the city gets its way, the building on Seymour Street will be tore down by this summer — replaced by a surface parking lot.
The city bought the property in 2014 for $4.8 million dollars, and the building has sat empty for the last three years.
There was hope the building would be resurrected by a performing arts centre proposed for the site, but it failed in a referendum in November 2015.
Now the city wants to go ahead with a parking lot, while keeping its options open for future development, including the idea of a parkade.
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"We estimated a parkade to be potentially $20 million," said City of Kamloops CAO David Trawin. "I think, right now, we feel we can provide enough parking downtown this time and wait and see, working with the BIA. They're not opposed to that right now."
Mike O'Reilly, the new president of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, supports any idea that adds parking.
"We have two new developments in the downtown core that are currently happening in existing parking lots," said O'Reilly. "So it's taking away from those spots, as well as the construction guys that'll be there to build them. So we're going to be losing about 100 stalls, because of these developments. We need something just to sustain what we're at now."
For David Thomson, who proposed a modified version of an arts centre at two-thirds of the cost, says groups that pitched ideas didn't get a fair shake from the city.
"They've been meeting in-camera for a year, so essentially there's been a year where we've been not able to say or do anything, or be heard," he said. "Then we all of a sudden get an email telling us this thing is going to be levelled."
Trawin says while Thomson's proposal claims to be two-thirds of the cost of the $90 million arts centre, it's missing key costs.
"The $90 million included the purchase cost of the land, the $90 million included a very healthy contingency, it included design. It included a lot of things. It included the relocation of utilities in the lane. Mr. Thomson's proposal is missing some of those type of things."
Trawin says more development, beyond a surface parking lot, is a very real possibility.
"It may end up being a parkade," he said. "It may eventually end up a parkade with a building. It may eventually end up a building with a parkade somewhere else."
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