Original Published on Jul 29, 2022 at 03:26

By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The question of affordability won’t be solved in the new waterfront development for Nelson.

With rising building costs, sky rocketing rents and soaring mortgages in Nelson the idea of how much people and families can, or should, afford has been debated as hotly as the heat dome settling in on the city.

But when it comes to Shoreline — the 120-housing-unit development proposed for the land beside the Chahko Mika Mall — that question of what is affordable in Nelson won’t really be answered.

When asked about the price point for the condominium units in Shoreline, developer Mike Culos was at a loss as to how to define affordability in the current real estate market.

What is affordability these days, he asked in city council chambers when questioned about the price of the units by council.

“Does $340,000 sound affordable these days? Well, it is, unless you are trying to raise $340,000 to buy something,” he said.

“But that’s where they will start. People will get a micro-unit for under $350,000, and they will be driven by square footage all of the way to the top.”

That top is a penthouse suite likely worth $1.2 million, on top of one of the two condominium buildings — with around 40 total units — slated for the site.

The proposed development — which includes units ranging from $350,000 to over $1.2 million — will also include some commercial space on the ground floor, and includes a 60-slip marina, with half of the slips reserved for non-motorized boats.

“You can pick a number that you are comfortable with and we can probably say you can buy a unit in there, somewhere,” Culos explained.

Coun. Keith Page asked if providing the units as rentals was an option.

“Or is the strata going to be geared more towards these buildings being owner occupied?” he said.

“Well, they will all be owner occupied,” Culos replied. “Everything on here will be owner occupied. Whether you buy one and rent it, that’s your call.”

For sale … soon

There will be some limited commercial space on the ground floor of the two condominium buildings, only being filled on a pre-sale basis. Culos said there would be a commitment to a coffee-wine bar sort of café on the lake-facing end of one of the buildings.

Some sort of public gathering with food and beverages of some sort.

Although the proposed project meets every condition laid out for a parcel of land in a Development Permit Area 2 (downtown and waterfront) area, the development permit application from Culos is still under review by city staff. 

In the next couple of months the disclosure document will be submitted to the city, and then the development permit and a building permit will be issued.

Shoreline is still waiting for a compliance document from the province, which could take several months to obtain, said Culos.

“Nothing can be sold until that document is received,” he said.

Phase one of the project includes the construction of 24 townhouse units — around 2,700 square feet — four garden home suites (2,250 sq. ft.) and 28 dwelling units.

The second phase of the project entails the development of a condominium site, with permitting expected by December of this year.

Colouring between the lines

The proposed project site is still a brownfield site, said city manager Kevin Cormack.

When the former Kutenai Landing project was being pitched almost 15 years ago it was the lack of detail regarding how the brownfield development would be handled which helped delay — and ultimately sink — the project.

The brownfield question will be avoided completely by not going into the ground with the development, said Culos, and instead it will be built on piles, with no basements.

This is a clean site, really, it has sawdust down 15 feet, said Culos.

“In some areas it’s a metre thick, in other areas it was a couple of metres thick,” he said. “So it was a real toss up whether to dig it all out and put new materials in. But when you have a brownfield, and we learned this from the past, the minute you open it up it attracts a lot of attention … and everyone has opinions.”

“These buildings have to be built on piles, it’s not like building on a greenfield site where you can put in your normal basement,” said Cormack.

The piles will be sunk 20 metres deep, said Culos, with the lower parkade only about eight feet into the ground from the existing grade.

This item reprinted with permission from The Daily, Nelson, British Columbia