A 42 unit residential development with eight commercial spaces proposed by Archer Properties is one step closer to getting shovels in the ground as Kimberley City Council approved the rezoning of the old Watkins School Property in the downtown area.
According to Mayor Don McCormick, the vacant property is something that has been on the mind of Kimberley residents for some time.
“The redevelopment of the old Watkins School property is without a doubt, one of the more exciting that has been on the books for quite some time in Kimberley,” said McCormick. “It’s going to not only fill a big hole that we had downtown, but also a big hole that we had in the housing market.”
The project, however, has a long way to go before any kind of construction begins, and several more steps of approval and planning still need to take place.
“The City has to take their time and do their due diligence. They’re not holding up the project, but it does take a little bit of time to go through that process. That, plus this whole COVID situation has made everything take a little bit longer, so we’re sort of behind where we want to be at this time,” said Jaret Thompson, partner with Archer Properties. “We definitely have our intention to have shovels in the ground by this fall. We’re still aiming for that, but the window is sort of tightening up on us. I really hope we’ll have units ready for sale next summer, but that could be pushed back by a few months, or even a year. That’s definitely not what we want.”
Even with a lot of work to be done, Thompson said there are people who want to buy a unit already.
“A lot of people are excited. I get calls all the time about people wanting to put names on a list because they’re interested in buying. We cant officially offer that yet, pre-sales and that whole process won’t start until we have the legal pieces lined up,” said Thompson.
The plan currently contains a number of multi-storey townhouses, some with rooftop patios, bungalows, and mixed-use residential and commercial units. According to the plan, commercial spaces will all be facing Deer Park Avenue.
So far, the project has prompted some optimism from Kimberley’s mayor.
“We’ve got a developer coming in with a pretty awesome plan, who’s done a fair amount of engagement with the neighbourhood and the community, and is very open to making changes that are required to fit in that neighbourhood the best way that it possibly can,” said McCormick.
A virtual public hearing was held on June 1st, which raised concerns that the City and Archer properties will address as the development moves ahead.
“There are some valid concerns from neighbours and people from Kimberley in general as to who funds the cost of studying things like the capacity of the infrastructure. Of course, we get our engineers to look at it, but the city has to verify it on their end, too,” said Thompson. “There have been lots of really good feedback via concerns as well.”
According to Mayor McCormick, the next step for Archer Properties will be to work with Kimberley’s planning department towards creating a development permit.