The city-owned Nelson and District Youth Centre could be redeveloped to add two storeys of residential housing, according to a study presented to council last week.
Former councillor Paula Kiss, representing the Canadian Green Building Council, and Lukas Armstrong with Cover Architecture presented the feasibility study.
The study — funded through grants from the Columbia Basin Trust and Canadian Green Building Council — indicates the cost of construction of the units is likely equal to the cost to build new units on an empty lot and that the required structural upgrade to the existing building should be equal to the costs of a foundation for a new building.
The cost estimate is $2.4 million or $200 per square foot. Savings from land servicing costs are estimated at between $500,000 to $1 million.
The current structure needs upgrades due to a leaking roof.
The roof will need to be replaced within a year or two at the bare minimum, according to Mayor Deb Kozak.
The 12,000 square foot proposal would hold 19 residential units — ranging from one-bedroom, 412 square-foot to two-bedroom 670-square-foot suites. An alternative is to create 33 units at a minimum of 322 square feet each.
The proposed design included a public roof garden, five balconies, laundry and elevator access.
The preliminary study into the youth centre addition identified several challenges.
A sprinkler system does not exist and the existing stairwell would need to conform to fire protection codes. The state of the pillars as a foundation could also need upgrading to bear the weight of two additional stories.
The study points out a soil density assessment would be needed to confirm it could support such a structure.
Kozak said the report will be brought forward to the Nelson Housing Committee, adding that federal and provincial funding decreases in public housing has been “disappointing.”
The information can also be considered once city facilities manager Peter Sintad presents an inventory of the city’s assets to council in the coming months.
“It’s an exciting option,” said Kozak. “It’s important that as a council to know what we have the capacity to do. It’s important to stay focused. As local government, we don’t provide housing but housing is a major concern so it’s great if we can facilitate.”
Kozak said in the past the city has provided two lots for Habitat for Humanity, obtained grants for the redevelopment of the Selkirk College dormitories and advocated to have Anderson Gardens and Lake View Village built.
She went on to say that the city won’t develop or manage housing but could look for expressions of interest from developers.