Nelson Commons project manager Russell Precious (pointing) explains the project details to a couple who stopped by Wednesday's open house at the Best Western.

Nelson Commons puts building plans on display

Nelson Commons hosted an open house this week to show off its new architectural renderings for the development

Nelson Commons hosted an open house Wednesday to show off its new architectural renderings for the development at the East end of Baker Street.

On display were images intended to offer a preliminary sense of how the structure will sit on the land, without including any of the exterior finishes on the building.

The plans show a four-storey building that stretches from Hendryx to Hall streets, which would replace the Extra Foods building and what is currently a parking lot in front of the vacant store. The parking area off Baker Street, beside Remedy’s RX, would remain as customer parking lot.

Within the development, the main floor would be commercial space — where the Kootenay Co-op Grocery Store would be — with three levels of residential condos above and underground parking below, which would accessed from Vernon Street.

Nelson Commons project manager Russell Precious said the building will be the same height at the New Grand Hotel and Hume Hotel, which is the maximum allowable height within the downtown zoning requirements.

“We’ve had many people suggest we add another floor of residential, which would have obviously made all the units more affordable, but that was really out of the question for us,” Precious said. “We didn’t want attract the controversy. So, it’s easier for us just to work within the zoning requirements.”

He also noted, the Co-op didn’t want to have a bigger project than it could handle or build more units than it could sell.

Floor plans and prices are in the works for the 45 residential units and should be released publicly in the next couple of months, with pre-sales beginning mid-summer.

“What we wanted people to see today [at the open house] is just that this project is going ahead and offer them an opportunity to give feedback on the work we’ve done so far,” Precious said.

People that drifted through Wednesday’s open house seemed generally pleased with the look of the new building. Those interested in residential units were invited to return for a formal presentation in the evening.

Precious said because the existing site is so unattractive, it’s easy for the public to see how a new building would improve the cityscape.

“It’s such an ugly site, it would be hard to mess it up — you’d have to try really hard to make it worse,” Precious laughed.

There’s also a lot of support for expanding the Kootenay Co-op Grocery store, which this project will make possible.

“The Co-op wants to build a nice new store that works to their specifications and is energy efficient,” Precious said. “They couldn’t do that if the residential component wasn’t there to subsidize the building cost.”

Construction on the new project won’t go ahead until enough people have purchased the pre-sale residential units. Precious is optimistic that stage won’t take too long.

“We’ve had over 175 people, mostly locals, indicate they’re interest through the survey on our website,” he said. “If that’s any indication, we should be sold out in no time.”

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