The Savoy affordable housing project has reached a dead end after a BC Housing consultant advised pastor Jim Reimer that the project was not feasible.
“Basically he told us to scrap the project because when you factor in the renovation costs plus the purchase costs the numbers don’t make sense,” said Reimer of Kootenay Christian Fellowship.
James Weldon, who is a consultant with BC Housing met with Reimer and predicted that the cost of the renovations needed to the Savoy Hotel would be $2 million.
Weldon has worked with BC housing to convert buildings in Vancouver to single room occupancy units.
“He’s very experienced and he spent a lot of time with us and went through the building and looked over our business plan. He was very supportive and felt that we have a solid business plan, proposal and presentation of what the need is,” said Reimer.
Unfortunately, he said there is no funding available either provincially or federally, other than small bits of development funding.
“He was looking at it simply from market value; what the renovations would cost from market value. He wasn’t taking into consideration the community support. We have had strong community support from both Home Hardware and Maglios,” said Reimer.
Weldon felt that because Kootenay Christian Fellowship doesn’t own the building, the combination of the purchase price and the renovation costs makes the project unsustainable.
“The only thing that I’d like to see happen, if we owned the building out right, without the debt, then we could chip away at the renovations with the community support that we have. The problem is that we don’t own the building,” said Reimer.
Until the Savoy sells, Reimer keeps some hope that the project may move forward.
He said the main barrier to the project moving forward, even at a different location, is that they will have to buy the land or the building to move forward.
“If there was some kind of miraculous event that would get us to where we own the building without the debt, then we could proceed,” said Reimer.
For now, the project is on hold and he is thankful for the community support.
“I’m going to be sending out a letter in the next week to all those people that supported us, and offering the option of returning the money they donated, or keeping the money in a separate account until we have another opportunity to do what we want to do that supports our vision of Our Daily Bread, and housing,” said Reimer.
The Savoy project was originally projected to cost $2.5 million.