Kelson Group, Station One Architects field community questions on proposed multi-million dollar development

Q&A for 'ambitious' build

Questions ranging from housing affordability to parking availability were posed to Kelson Group and their architects during an information session on the proposed City Gardens development.

In an online webinar Monday evening, Jason Fawcett, president of Kelson Group, and representatives from Station One Architects fielded questions from the public about the multi-million dollar project, planned for downtown Kamloops.

The development was first announced in fall 2020. The plans were updated and re-released after an initial round of community feedback.

Fawcett told webinar participants if all goes well with obtaining building permits, they will open the building for pre-sales in the fall.

Construction of the parkade will begin in 2022, and Kelson Group aims to complete the first of two planned high rises, a 22 storey tower, in 2024.

“That’s an ambitious target, but we are confident in our team to meet that,” Fawcett said.

“Depending on the market response, we will start the second building in late 2023, but we will have to determine if that is a low rise or the second high rise building.”

Fawcett said Kelson Group is hoping to construct an additional building every year until the entire development is finished. They are anticipating the project will take between six to 10 years to complete.

When asked about construction noise that might continue for up to a decade, Fawcett said they will try to minimize noise as the buildings are put up.

“We’ll be as sensitive as we can,” he said.

Representatives from Station One Architects responded to multiple questions about parking space, saying the parking provided in the planned three-storey underground lot exceeds the city’s requirements by 30 to 40 stalls.

They said city parking requirements include 1.1 stalls per one bedroom unit, 1.6 stalls for a two bedroom unit, and just over two stalls for a three bedroom suite.

Additional stalls have been allocated for visitor parking as well, according to the architects.

“The underground parkade basically covers the entire property,” the architects said in a chat message response to one participant.

They also confirmed they are planning to provide charging stations for electric vehicles in the parkade.

Fawcett said condo sale prices and apartment rental rates would vary depending on unit size and location in the building. The building type is also a factor, as the towers will be more expensive to construct compared to the low rise wood-frame buildings proposed.

“We’re going to do our best to keep construction costs in line by finding the right balance between quality and cost,” Fawcett said.

Market rates will also be a factor in pricing units, according to Fawcett.

He said he believes the project’s size will ensure a better housing supply for the community.

“We think more supply and options in the real estate market will help prices lower, at least stabilize them. ... One of the answers is to certainly build so there’s more options for more homeowners,” Fawcett said, adding that some residents may also sell homes to downsize into the apartments, further increasing housing supply.

In response to concerns about an influx of families overburdening schools in the area, Fawcett said they would be working with the school district and the city as much as they could on their end. He advised concerned parties to reach out to the city.

The development includes proposals for a number of amenities, such as a dog park and a play area. Fawcett said these amenities would likely be only for residents of the development, but other walking paths and the large plaza area would be open to the public.

“We plan to have a sizeable budget to maintain the area and keep it safe and welcoming,” he said.

Fawcett said the company is continuing to collect feedback through its website. A survey is available for the public, which provides the option to submit comments on the project.

According to Fawcett, Kelson aims to have a development permit application submitted to the city on April 9.

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