Nelson Commons is seen under construction this year.

2015’s top stories No. 1: Nelson’s building boom

Nelson isn’t known for having a lot of construction activity going on at once. But in 2015, several major projects got underway.



Nelson isn’t known for having a lot of construction activity going on at once. But in 2015, several major projects got underway at opposite ends of Baker St. and more are set to begin in 2016.

The Kootenay Co-op finally broke ground on Nelson Commons, which will see a new store and 54 housing units open at the east end of Baker in the late summer of 2016.

The Stores to Shores project saw Hall St. redeveloped between Herridge Lane and Lake St. While the city completed various underground infrastructure fixes, it also gave the street a cosmetic overhaul including pedestrian bulb outs, new sidewalks, staircases, and a revamped plaza at IODE Park.

Some contentious traffic changes were ditched before work began, but Hall St. became a two-way between Baker and Vernon while Cedar St. became a one-way southbound between Front and Vernon.

The eight-month project was awarded to local company Maglio Installations, one of five bidders.

Still, not everybody was thrilled about it businesses had to endure racket all summer that limited parking and customer access, and some parts still aren’t quite finished. A few businesses found themselves without parking because of unanticipated changes in elevation on the Hall St. hill.

At Baker St.’s west end, the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce moved into the city’s historic train station after five years of renovation and restoration.

The building is also home to Nelson-Kootenay Lake Tourism and the visitor information centre. The Nelson Star will move in this week, a coffee shop is expected to open in the new year, and a few other ground floor spaces are still up for grabs. There’s also a stunning boardroom available for rent.

Acquiring the building was just a germ of an idea when chamber boss Tom Thomson joined the organization in February 2007. The organization came to terms with the CPR in July 2010 and work has proceeded in fits and starts ever since, based on funding availability. Joern Wingender oversaw the project, which trained many people at their crafts.

“That building could have been knocked down and replicated for two-thirds the cost,” Thomson says. “Some people thought we were acquiring an asset, some thought a liability.” There’s no doubt now that it’s an asset and an incredible one at that.

Additionally, Shambhala Music Festival opened Bloom nightclub in the former Savoy Hotel, eight years after a devastating fire left the building vacant. Work is continuing on the facade, and further plans call for a 12-room hotel, rooftop space, and lounge.

Also at that end of town, the University of BC set up shop in the former Nelson Daily News building, offering both the West Kootenay Teacher Education Program and creative writing classes.

In 2016, we can expect two more major projects to begin: the first phase of Nelson Landing, which will see eight housing units built on the former Kootenay Forest Products site, as well as the new Ancron medical clinic opposite Kootenay Lake Hospital. After some debate, city council approved a zoning change that will allow Dr. Andre Kirsten to construct a two-storey building to house six to nine doctors.

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