A change in downtown land use regulations means Kootenay Christian Fellowship can finally move its congregation into the city’s core.
At its regular meeting Monday night, council voted unanimously to allow churches as permitted use in its core commercial zoning area. The broad land use decision will open the door to any church that wants to move downtown.
The decision came at the perfect time for Kootenay Christian Fellowship, which took possession of the Savoy Lanes building at 520 Falls Street last Friday. Pastor Jim Reimer hopes to see the congregation — along with the Our Daily Bread hot lunch program — move into the building by mid-January.
“We promised the city, when we started Our Daily Bread in 2002, that we would look for the opportunity to move into a commercial area, and now we’re able to fulfill that promise,” Reimer said.
Kootenay Christian Fellowship is currently located at 812 Stanley Street, tucked between residential properties, across the street from the Central Education Centre.
That property was listed for sale in June and still hasn’t found a buyer. The current listed price is $298,000.
Reimer said he’d hoped to sell the church building before relocating, but plans to go ahead with the move regardless of the status of that sale.
“When we do get the money out of that building, we can use it to help fulfill our goals,” Reimer explained.
“We’ve already bought the new place and we’re eager to get down there.”
The church will move into an empty storefront that used to house Curves Health Club, while Our Daily Bread will occupy the old bingo hall.
Savoy Lanes bowling alley and the SPCA animal shelter are tenants in the building, and Reimer hopes to see them remain as they are.
“Ideally, we want the building to be self-sufficient and having those tenants will help pay the costs for the other services we provide,” Reimer said.
Eventually, Reimer hopes to see SHARE Nelson also move onto the 0.9 acre property and to develop affordable housing units there.
“We have a lot of land to work with, which is something we never had the benefit of on Stanley Street,” Reimer said. “We’re very excited to see this move forward.”
The Savoy Lanes building is the second downtown location Kootenay Christian Fellowship considered moving into. Last year it looked into buying the old Savoy Hotel at 198 Baker Street, but the fire damaged building would have cost more than $2 million to renovate.
The purchase price for the Savoy Lanes building was $1.5 million.