New development expected to liven up downtown Kamloops

By Chad Klassen
October 4, 2017 - 5:18pm Updated: October 4, 2017 - 8:11pm

KAMLOOPS — Development in the downtown core has been encouraged for years.

The city tried to get a $90 million performing arts centre approved by taxpayers, but it failed in a 2015 referendum nearly two years ago.

Now there are at least two projects in the works, one at the Double Tree on St. Paul that's under construction and another that hasn't broken ground yet in the parking lot next to Hotel 540.

"We know that it's been more than 10 years and many people say something like this on an office basis, as much as 20 years," says Bryan Pilbeam, vice president and general manager of the National Hospitality Group. "So, certainly something that Kamloops lacks and again having the big, open office spaces for people to attract."

On Wednesday the hotel, which owns the parcel of land, officially released details on the plan for '580 Victoria,' a six-storey commercial development, which will start in a couple of months and be finished in 2019.

"Not only does it afford a space for people and for companies to grow here, but also we know that those out-of-market companies that want to come to Kamloops want the big, open office spaces that are there," says Pilbeam. "To get 12,000, 13,000, 14,000 square feet of office space on one floor."

Ken Christian, the city's newly elected mayor, is excited about projects like that one, as well as the Double Tree development, where a condo-style building is in the early phases of construction.

"There has been some good news just recently with respect to the Hotel 540, the move of KPMG. We've looked at the sale of the old theatre complex. I've had discussion with Jim Lightbody about the redevelopment of the BCLC headquarters building," he says. "And now as we look up towards the Double Tree, we've got new property across from Stuart Wood."

Christian wants to improve and beautify downtown from Fifth through to Eight Avenue.

"My vision for that portion of our downtown is to make the piece from Fifth until Eighth a little more pedestrian friendly, so that we can start to see more pedestrian traffic through to Memorial Arena and Curling Club and connecting a lot of those hotel properties."

As mayor, he wants to see more residential develoment downtown as well to liven up the area.

Hotel 540 has a similar vision. Following its commercial building, it has plans to build residential units in the parking lot behind the hotel closer to Landsdowne Street.

"That could be anything from some open community space that would be available. Perhaps something that could tie in with the public market area," says Pilbeam. "And ultimately some residential so we know we want to build a community and a plan. We've looked at a number of pieces and just taking our time and making sure we do. All the while making sure the parking that's there now continues to be used."

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