A rezoning application that would allow Kootenay Christian Fellowship put low cost housing and church facilities in the former Savoy Hotel has made it past first and second reading at Nelson city council, and given those behind the project the “courage” to move ahead.
“It’s a very needed step, because now we can effectively move forward knowing the city is on board with us,” says Fellowship pastor Jim Reimer.
Though the Fellowship missed its original April deadline to buy the building, Reimer says it’s still working on a plan to bring 17 affordable housing units to the Baker Street space.
BC Housing staff toured the building last month, and Reimer says there’s talk of bringing a consultant in to help with the project.
“Once we have the consultant come from BC Housing we’re going to be working though the exact details of how much the renovations cost, because this guy’s supposed to be an expert in that area,” he says. “Then we’ll have a clearer picture of exactly how much finances are required.”
In the meantime, the Square Foot to Freedom fundraising campaign will continue, and Reimer says a new “major fundraising effort” is in the works.
The Fellowship has put the cost of buying the building and renovating it at $2.5 million. To date, they’ve raised about $50,000.
Negotiations for the sale of the building will likely reopen once Reimer finds out if BC Housing will support the project financially (a decision will likely come in three or four months).
Though city council has given the Savoy rezone application two readings, there are several conditions attached to any further approval. The Fellowship will have to negotiate a housing agreement with BC Housing to ensure the units continue to be low cost in perpetuity. Final adoption of the rezone won’t be given until the Fellowship actually buys the building.
Of the conditions listed, Reimer says the only one he wasn’t expecting was the agreement with BC Housing, but he doesn’t mind having that attached.
“The city just wants to make sure that those units are used for low-cost housing,” he says. “And that’s my desire too.”