Studies have already determined the Nelson youth centre could support another two storeys. The questions now are whether the ground beneath it is strong enough and whether there is a market for “micro-unit” housing there.

Studies have already determined the Nelson youth centre could support another two storeys. The questions now are whether the ground beneath it is strong enough and whether there is a market for “micro-unit” housing there.

City to study youth centre roof housing further

Whether the ground under the Youth Centre could hold two more storeys of housing is unknown, as is the market for the housing.

The City of Nelson may spend about $20,000 for two feasibility studies toward putting two storeys of housing on the youth centre roof, which according to city staff is at the end of its life. A new roof would cost about $100,000.

The idea was presented to council by the city’s facilities manager Peter Sinstadt recently.  His report is attached to the online version of this story at nelsonstar.com. Council has not decided to go ahead with the two studies but will consider them at an upcoming priority-setting session, according to city manager Kevin Cormack.

One study would be a geotechnical investigation of whether the ground under the city-owned building would handle the weight of two more storeys. The second would be a market study to answer questions about the target market including price and whether rental or sale is best.

A study done last year didn’t address those questions, but simply looked at building construction issues, concluding it would be structurally possible to add two storeys. Cormack says he hopes funding for the  new studies will come from the Columbia Basin Trust.

Sinstadt told council he thought “micro-units” of less than 500 square feet would be appropriate for the project, but the market study would be needed to confirm that.

He recommended the two studies be done by December of this year.

“In larger communities,” Cormack said, “micro units are part of the solution for affordable housing. We need to decide if they are viable in a smaller community like Nelson. Is there a market for them as ownership or as rental, and at what price?”

Sinstadt’s proposal says such units are often built modular, off-site, and are aimed at low-end market pricing. They would not be built by the city but by a private developer. Possible target markets could be bachelor or one-bedroom for singles, independent affordable housing for youth 22-plus, or lowcost home ownership, all of which he said are gaps identified in the city’s affordable housing strategy