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"I think we all can agree that the future of the central core of downtown Campbell River is at a dangerous point.
The downtown struggled for a number of years after the construction of the 400,000 sq. ft. Discovery Shopping Centre which immediately doubled Campbell River’s commercial space inventory. The fall out of this over building included the bankruptcy of the Ironwood Mall and an increase of about a 30 per cent vacancy rate in the existing buildings within the down town parking reserve.
However over the past few years recovery has commenced largely due to the City’s infrastructure investment in the St. Ann’s/Alder street precinct which resulted in the Mailman Building being constructed, and long term vacancies in the immediate area filling up. (Scotiabank, Sinnott building among them). Shortly afterwards, Berwick and the Comfort Inn were also constructed as part of the City’s initiative to foster development with the Parking Reserve.
The current social crisis now taking place in the downtown has resulted in millions of dollars of new social facilities now being developed (or soon to be developed) in the area in an attempt to alleviate these issues. The concentration of these facilities now in itself has caused a crisis of confidence within this area. We are concerned that vacancies will start increasing in this area which could result in a downward spiral. Already we are seeing an indication of that.
Currently the City, Chamber of Commerce, Downtown BIA are working hard to stop/reverse this spiral and have largely focused on safety and security.
We (the property owners in the Cedar_Cypress area believe that that a long term solution needs to be addressed concurrently so that existing tenants and landlords have confidence that in the near future this situation will be reversed.
We believe the solution is right in front of our eyes by just looking at the success from the City’s recent investment in the St. Ann’s/Alder precinct. We think this can be duplicated in Cedar/Cypress core area by the following:
- Purchasing the Rose Bowl site from BC Housing at the end of a 3 year period. (the 3 years allows BC Housing to deal with an immediate problem and provides time for the City to plan and commence the infra structure investment in the area.)
- The Rose Bowl site becomes the site for a new one level library that will be integrated by hard landscaping into the other cultural facilities in the immediate area (Tidemark Theatre, CR Community Center)
- The existing library becomes an expanded facility for the Art Gallery.
- With these 4 facilities within easy walking distance of each other the whole becomes greater than the sum of the individual facilities. In essence, Campbell River will have created an event center that can hold sizable conventions/events by utilizing all the facilities as one on those occasions. Campbell River will have a ‘true cultural precinct.
- The new library needs to be constructed on the Rose Bowl site which will ‘anchor’ the redevelopment of Cedar Street and Cypress Street precinct.
- Both Cedar and Cypress Streets to get the Alder Street make over – underground utilities, proper sidewalks, street trees etc. (A destination that people will want to work in, and come to.)
- Currently there is a surplus of undeveloped land on both Cedar and Cypress streets – this is the core of the downtown with the unimproved land and the natural location for development. The City’s infrastructure investment in this area will be the catalyst for private investment in the development of the unimproved land.
- The owners of Tyee Plaza are still interested in constructing more residential housing within the Tyee Plaza site. TAT Properties, owner of 5 undeveloped lots on Cedar Street have indicated that they believe that there would be a demand for new space with the City’s investment and that this would enable them to proceed with new development to meet demand.
The former bus depot continues to be for sale and is an attractive site for redevelopment providing there is confidence that the City’s investment as contemplated in this proposed strategy goes ahead.
At a recent meeting of concerned property owners there was an idea voiced that a Cedar/Cypress VCC (venture capital corporation) could possibly be established to invest in this area.
I have recently reached out to RBC who own one of the vacant parking lots on Cedar Street to see if they were willing to sell it as it could then be amalgamated with the adjoining south parking lot which would create a lot of sufficient size to build a decent office building on.
It is not too difficult to foresee that this core area could soon see private investment in the 10’s of millions of dollars within a short time frame resulting in this area would becoming a major revenue generator for the City.
The successful development of this area would also be a catalyst to the future redevelopment of those lands between 13th and 16th. (the Steve Marshall lands)"
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