Mayor Leonard Krog announced Monday evening at a council meeting that the city had purchased several properties downtown, including the former site of the Jean Burns building, located near the corner of Commercial Street and the ‘avenue Terminal, for an undisclosed amount.
The purchase also includes the properties occupied by In Print and Black and Blue Tattoo, which are adjacent to the vacant Jeans Burns construction site along Terminal Avenue.
“With the purchase of In Print and Black and Blue Tattoo, the council has taken bold steps to redevelop a key area of the city’s downtown core,” Krog said at Monday’s meeting. “I think most of us would recognize that the intersections of Commercial and Terminal are the heart of this city. “
The purchase of the property now allows the city to move forward with conceptual plans to redevelop the downtown, Terminal Avenue-Commercial Street section of downtown Nanaimo. These plans, according to the city’s website, include pedestrian improvements to Terminal Avenue, the creation of a “public space or attractive plaza” on the site of the former Jean Burns building, the creation of a ‘a transit hub between the terminal and Shaw Lane and the installation of a cycle path through the city center via Albert Street.
“We all look forward to the board seeing action in this very important part of our beautiful downtown,” said Krog, who later called the purchase a “big” step forward.
The Jeans Burns property has remained vacant like an empty hole near one of the city’s busiest intersections since a fire destroyed buildings on the site in 2016. The city of Nanaimo, frustrated with the lack of share, served the owner, Crankshaw Holdings Ltd. ., notice of expropriation earlier this year.
Rick Hyne of Crankshaw Holdings, told CHEK News that after the fire there had been a prolonged struggle to secure a proper insurance payment and that after a pandemic shutdown they were planning to redevelop the property when the city served them with a notice of expropriation.
“We had already told the city that we weren’t interested in selling to the city or someone else until we could get an accurate value from the site based on future needs,” a- he declared. “We were prevented from doing so, so the price of the property we sold to the city may not necessarily be what the value of the property might have been if we had been allowed to continue. “
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While concept plans are in place, nothing has been approved yet and residents will be able to provide feedback and commentary on those plans over the coming months, Krog said.
“This is an opportunity to help shape the future of this city, to build on what has been achieved today and improve on what we already have,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Victoria Cresent Association has said it supports the revitalization of the former Jean Burns building and the area surrounding it, but with a caveat.
“The number one thing downtown revitalization needs and for sure is number one safety, we all need to feel safe,” said Kevan Shaw of the Victoria Cresent Association.
The purchase price was not disclosed, but the property was recently valued at over $ 830,000.
CHEK News has contacted the City of Nanaimo regarding the purchase price of the properties and has been told that the city “will be able” to release this information after the official closing date in mid-August.
To view concept plans for the Terminal Avenue section of downtown Nanaimo, click here.