Next steps for an art gallery and housing project in downtown Castlegar – Castlegar News

Progress is being made on plans for a new building in downtown Castlegar that would house the Kootenay Art Gallery and affordable residential apartments.

The project is planned for the site of the old Eremenko building at the corner of Columbia Avenue and 3rd Street.

Columbia Basin Trust awarded a grant to the City of Castlegar to secure the property in April 2021. Since then, the city has hired the CitySpaces consulting firm to investigate the possibilities of the space.

City Spaces presented a draft feasibility study to City Council at its October 4 meeting.

The consultants have narrowed down half a dozen options to the two they consider the best. These two options include the demolition of the current building and a replacement building constructed with the gallery facing Columbia Avenue and six floors of affordable housing facing 3rd Street.

The first option, known as Concept 2C, provides for 33 residential units. The construction of one or other of the components – housing or gallery – could be done independently of one another. This allows more flexibility as part of the project could go ahead once funding is secured. The initial capital cost estimate for the option is $ 11.3 million.

The units would include 17 with one bedroom, 11 with two bedrooms and five with three bedrooms.

The second option, known as Concept 2B, would involve building the gallery and residential components at the same time. This allows for more housing units (48) as some units could be built above the gallery. The units would include 23 with one bedroom, 20 with two bedrooms and five with three bedrooms.

With the higher number of units, this option appears to be more financially efficient, according to the consultants. The downside is that funding for both parties should be secured before you start. The capital costs of this option are estimated at $ 15.1 million.

Neither concept incorporates underground parking, and a parking gap will be required for the project. However, city staff said there is significant off-street and on-street parking available throughout the city center, including city-owned land near the site.

Housing operations

Although the city owns the site, the municipalities are generally not involved in operating housing. This brings us to the next step.

In order to secure funding for the project and move forward, the city will need to partner with a non-profit corporation to operate the housing portion of the project.

The Town of Castlegar will be issuing a formal Notice of Expression of Interest with a closing date of November 2 to find this partner.

Once a company is selected, that company submits a proposal to BC Housing or CMHC, under the Community Housing Fund or Co-Investment Fund, or similar future programs.

Design approvals, construction contracts, receipt of capital and operating funding would go through the not-for-profit corporation.

The city will have to approve any rezoning, subdivision or development permits required for the project.

The report states that typical arrangements for similar projects have city land leasehold to a company for 60 years at no cost.

Art Gallery

The plans for the gallery part of the project provide for an area of ​​11,539 sq.ft. space that includes several exhibition galleries, a gift shop, staff offices, a meeting room and a workshop. The estimated construction costs are 3.9 to 4.6 million dollars.

The Kootenay Art Gallery has been researching options and making plans for a future move for over six years. Public and stakeholder engagement continued during this time and the gallery has come to the table with a good idea of ​​what they need in the new facility.

At this point, funding for the gallery portion is still undetermined, but consultants say that contributions to capital funding for cultural facilities can often be obtained from the provincial and federal governments. Most cultural facilities also depend on substantial donations from the community, with some major donors initially secured and a fundraising program organized through a fundraising campaign.

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The town of Castlegar purchased the old Eremenko building for a housing and art gallery project. Photo: Submitted

A concept drawing of a new housing and art gallery relocation project (Concept 2C) in downtown Castlegar.  Blue represents the gallery, yellow represents the apartments.  Image: Consulting in urban spaces

A concept drawing of a new housing and art gallery relocation project (Concept 2C) in downtown Castlegar. Blue represents the gallery, yellow represents the apartments. Image: Consulting in urban spaces

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