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October 27, 2017 3:46 pm

Downtown Abuzz with Interest

Monday, August 28, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Demolition of the  former Enterprise buildingat Queensway and Patricia,  another City owned property being prepared for ‘future development”  photo courtesy  City of PG.

Prince George, B.C. –  Should the referendum  on  building a new Four Seasons Pool and  Fire Hall #1  be approved,  the  existing  buildings on the current sites would be  demolished and the properties  prepared for possible future development.

That may be good news in the long  run as there is growing interest in  developing downtown.

The City is already  seeing interest  in  development of  at least three of the other numerous properties it  owns in the downtown core.

Development interest  is being explored  for  the  following properties:

  • the   block  on 6th Avenue between Quebec and Dominion ,
  • the  site on  the north side of 3rd  Avenue which was the  home to the Columbus Hotel which burned down several years ago,  and
  • the property   at George and 6th  avenue  which was the former  home of Norgate Auto body,  and at one time was the preferred site for a performing arts  centre.

250News has learned  the  developments being considered are mixed use,   with residential and commercial operations.   That may be  in  large part due to the incentives being offered by the City, and a grant  that is available through Northern Development  Initiative Trust  which  provides $10 thousand dollars  per  residential unit.   Couple that grant with the tax incentives offered by the City  and developers are seeing  the downtown as very  attractive indeed.

The proceeds of the sale of any of those properties could be used to  offset some of the costs associated with the development  of a new pool or  fire hall, providing  one or both  are approved by the electorate.

The pool has  an estimated cost  of $35 million,   with another $6 million estimated for the purchase of the site ( Days Inn   at  Quebec and  7th)  and the demolition of  the  old fire hall  and  old Four Seasons pool.

There  are  a couple of other  buildings owned by the City  which  were not demolished when  tenants move to their new  locations.

The old 4th Avenue   yard ,  east of Queensway,  used to be the  site for  the public works  department,  but since  that department moved  into  its new location at  18th and Ospika,   the old  yard  has been rented out  to a  number of  tenants.  That property is generating revenue  for the City.

The former RCMP  building on  Brunswick   is another  site  which was vacated when a new facility was built.   It had been used as the  volunteer centre  during the Canada Winter Games but since then,  it has acted  as a storage site.   That building has been  viewed by  potential  buyers and  renters, but  the  City hasn’t been able to close a deal on that  property yet.   It is expected  a request for proposals for that  building  will be issued early in the new year.

The downtown in Prince George  has changed dramatically over the past five years, with the addition of new  restaurants,  a brewery,  the Wood Innovation and Design Centre, and a planned comedy club.  Facades have been  upgraded, and there is work  being done to develop student housing in the area,  although details on that  pursuit are  far from being  made public.





City hall will have to forgive me if I take their announcement that development is imminent in the CBD with a grain of salt. How many times are we to be led down the garden path only to find another vacant city owned lot after the city has flattened the structure that once stood on it. Buying up all these properties and leaving them vacant only further degrades the amount of taxes coming in. The story that they are doing it to “prepare for possible redevelopment” is a pipe dream. In the new pool proposal you would think that the city would use one of these “prepared for redevelopment” sites, but no, let’s buy another existing business knock it down and build it there.

The statement “Development interest is being explored” makes me laugh, come back when the shovels hit the ground. A few similar thing spring to mind from past similar announcements:
-The whole block around WIDC to house shopping and residential structures
-San Francisco to build a multi story condo complex
-A river runs through it concept for the core as a hole one of many city plans.
-The downtown hotel that stalled for years until the city opened the checkbook big time to get it moving….tks taxpayers…we’ll take a tax holiday too once it is completed if you don’t mind.

The two projects that have come to fruition over the last few years are ones that are not really suited for the vibrant and revitalized downtown that they are seeking, the All West Glass and Wholesale Sports. While both are welcome additions the former is more suited to a light industrial area and the latter to a big box area like was originally proposed foe College Heights. The only reason they chose a downtown location was the tax advantages. This reflects poorly on the city’s so called planning department.

The city is just trying to paint a positive picture that the core is growing and a shiny new pool and fire hall will fit in nicely. With the rose colored glasses fixed in place they hope this will result in more yes votes in the upcoming referendum.

Once again come back when the permits are pulled and the building rise ABOVE foundation level(lesson learned from Marriott:)

    Also agree very much with your comments, including the comments about All West and Wholesale Sports.

    Planning department. Hahahaha….

Totally agree with the above post ! Bang on.

    From the lips of the great philosopher and orator George W Bush “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice -umm- won’t get fooled again”

    Words to live by;D

There is a performing arts center wafting quietly around in the breeze yet. They have been very quiet about it lately and that in itself makes me wonder more.

    One can smell it: the old Four Seasons Pool site.

      The best location for it.

      I do not see a PAC happening for the next 40 years. It has been on the mind of many for over 40 years already.

      In fact, theatres have changed over the last 40 years. The change includes supporting several smaller ones in one location under one management structure.

      That could very easily change to similar sized independent facilities within a “cultural” district which could be managed as a consortium or independently or both depending on the events considered.

      I was thinking more along the line of the old Legion and use the pool site for parking. after all they claim it is only going to seat 6-800 people. so a parkade will cover that problem.

Only in the eyes of Ian Wells is a excavator over a pile of rubble a positive development for the city. Anyone care to chip in to get him a one way ticket to Syria, all the rubble there would be a wet dream for him:P

    I will lend you both of my hands….

The City philosophy on development nerve seems to change What they need to do is clean out the Plannng Department and get people that understand development. All they seem to be interested in is more tax dollars and the hell with proper management.

    Good thing you are referring to the City where you are living! Abbotsford a.k.a. Abby!

      Don’t look at abby. Look at the sh88t that you live in.

      Don’t look at Prince George! Look at what is wrong in your perfect city instead (arson fires, murders, drive by shootings..)! Meaning: Mind your own business, please! Are you homesick for Prince George? I bet you are! In your opinion it is a dump, that our city council and us are a bunch of rubes! It is not so and you know it!

I beg to differ with”the downtown has changed dramatically in the last five years” Maybe the southwest side of town has but not downtown.I would love to see some developer bite the bullet and build condo’s in the downtown,more hotels and condo’s will get people out of there car’s and walk and explore what’s down there.

    Valid point but won’t happen in our life time … we have been letting developers get away with under cost land development around the edges of the city and therefore it is not economically viable to re-develop older properties
    … a developer cannot hide the costs of a tear down and cleanup like they can the costs for undercharged hookups on raw land.

    Clint Dahl was supposed have condo’s started behind the old Chances Casino, but like most of his projects, it is stalled. Construction was supposed to start a couple years ago, but still nothing. Eerily similar to his other project, the Delta/Marriot. Hey, at least he’s trying ;)

The downtown has not changed “dramatically” in my opinion, but it has changed substantially in the last few years! Let’s give some credit where credit is due!

What is considered to be “change” in the downtown?

The best indicator is one that shows the amount of total retail, office, hotel and residential space in a given area. In addition, civic facilities should be tracked, as well as parking spaces, both off street as well as street parking. Finally, undeveloped properties should be included.

That then needs to be divided into store front (ground floor in our case) as well as upper floor space.

A count, over time of the last 50 years, say in 5 or even 10 year increments would show us an objective picture which we do not get to see these days.

It was readily available through the Regional development corporation in the 1970s.

Neither Economic development nor Planning is putting information like that out as far as I can tell.

All we are doing is going by anecdotal information.

Buildings come and go. What matters is where are the people? Where do they work? How many worked and entertained and shopped downtown and lived downtown in 1977 and how many do so in 2017?

What percentage of that downtown component is it of the entire city?

    One final thing on that. Today we have the advantage of a GIS system as an analytical engine that can maintain records much better than we used to be able to do in 1977.

    Why are we not using it for that? If we are, why do we not get to see the results?

      Does anyone employed by the city know how to use the system properly. If not GI-GO.

      Look at the the system the city paid big buck to monitor and make recommendations on paving. They gathered and inputted all the relevant data and when the system spit out a plan the city did not have the coin to follow through so it was back to the squeaky wheel/back of cigarette package plan.

      It takes a senior person to prepare queries which lead to increased knowledge about the City’s infrastructure. If they do not have an individual or two like that, then they are basically drafting on a computer rather than on a drafting board.

Have to agree with PrinceGeorge on this one. One only has to take a drive through the downtown to see significant changes in the past few years.

No doubt there are more changes to come. My concern is with the 10 year tax breaks, it will be the other taxpayers that will have to pick up any slack.

Because we dont have a citizens group in this town that keeps an eye on city spending we cannot follow the money on all the proposals, tax incentives, etc;

    Remember I asked you if you wanted to be part of such a group and you were not interested.

    Changed you mind yet?

    3+ years to rebuild the Keg …. it is still a Keg, just better looking form the outside.

    Three buildings burned on 3rd, two replaced so far.

    The steak house on George was replaced with another restaurant … finally. Still only one restaurant there.

    The farmers market has been having problems ever since it moved from 3rd.

    The music store burned down and part of what was continuous buildings on George is now a parking lot.

    Several retail outlets on George and 3rd have become professional offices. That use kills storefront retail and the number of people going downtown.

    The BMO is a dead building. So is the Oxford building where the feds were allowed to get rid of the prime storefront retail space and install reflective glass.

    Take a real inventory of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th over a 40 year period, and you will be surprised of the reduced opportunity in the donwtown to shop and be entertained.
    Thed old grocery store next to the CIBC is still a parking lot. SO is the space adjacent to the BMO.


The current site of the Community Arts Council (studio 2880) has been proposed by the province for a mixed market/non-market housing development.

Have not hear much about that anymore, given the change in government.

How is that doing and where is the CAC going to move?

I imagine the City is looking for a building or a property downtown for that venue.

The question is when and how much is that going to cost?

We know about it now, but we are not being kept informed. What is the holdup? Don’t give us the old excused of “land speculation” again.

    They know exactly where the CAC is going they just haven’t got around to telling us yet.

    I know that. I am wondering if someone is pursuing that project wondering what the hold-up is.

    Best I can surmise is that both involve public owned facilities involving province.

    So, we can wait till spring or later.

    In either case, one should be able to get someone to talk.

    Ask Horgan, or the minister responsible.

When they built the new police station, they said that the proceeds from the sale of the old station **could** be used to offset the cost of the new building.

When they moved the purchasing and city yard from East of Queensway on 4th to Ospika and 18th they said that the proceeds from the sale of the old city yard property **could be used to offset the cost of the new office building on 18th and Ospika.

The are now saying that the sale of various pieces of property in the downtown area, including the old city yard and police station **could** be used to offset the cost of the new fire hall and swimming pool.

So the wording that we get from the City is could, might, its possible, being considered, etc;. We have to move the high paid management people at the City to start to earn their salaries and use words like **will be used**

Something like. The proceeds of the sale of property in the downtown **will** be used to off set the cost of the new offices at Ospika and 18th, the new police station, and the new fire hall and swimming pool. This will allow us to pay down some debt and keep taxes increases at a bare minimum.

Lets be specific.

The Ramada closed its lounge as well as its restaurant. There is still nothing in the space which was occupied by 2 movie theatres at one time and a casino after that.

The Ramnada had plans for that space, but nothing has happened. The also had plans for a new glass canopy at the entrance, but never came about. Part of the canopy facia is still exposed unfinished.

The Inn of the North was supposed to refinish its main floor lobby and Coffee Garden after it completed its room refinishing. Nothing yet.

    Restaurants come and go and most are not anchors. The Keg has some roots but look down the block -?-Niner’s Diner-Tony Roma’s and now a brew pub. Some of the new ones downtown are nice admissions but who knows how long they will last given the competition. A big sports pub opened up in recreation place and a Montana’s Bar and Grill is also in the works for that same area.

    Totally agree the loss of street level retail space is a huge negative for downtown when it is turned into office space. Guess that is what happens when there is no city planner and the guy that pretends to do the job is a glorified real estate agent who sees any development as a positive, city planning be damned.

    All this might not matter as North Korea just lobbed a missile right over a Japanese island. With the hurricane and fallout from Charlottesville where Tillerson and Cohn contradicted Drumpf plus news just out that Drumpf and company were appealing directly to Putin for help getting Drumpf Tower Moscow moving forward during the election he might lose his last marble and launch some nukes.

Where is the place in PG where people will drive to, park their car for an afternoon or evening, go grab a meal before a show or hockey game, maybe do some shopping for a couple of hours, grab an ice cream cone and hang out in the park people watching, or maybe meet some friends for coffee or a couple of drinks, while others do the same thing at different locations on the same block? Short answer, there is no such space.

PG development is a patchwork of sorts, with no cohesion. They don’t build areas or neighbourhoods, they just plop down buildings and call them “developments”. They’re missing the fact that this stuff has to be part of a larger vision, a bigger goal. They still haven’t figured out that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

NMG – you are absolutely right on. Further more the City decided to spend 40 grand on two signs (one on Queensway and Patricia Blvd. the other on Fifth Ave heading east to the city centre near the last corner before it turns into fourth ave) and at about the same time spent at least 200 thousand to catch anyone over three hours and find them $50.00! So the downtown problems start with a wrong mind set and the rest just tumbles out of place.

The City spent 40 grand to welcome people downtown and 200 grand to catch anyone who stayed too long! ^^ to clear up what I wanted to say ^^

    Welcome to Downtown Prince George. If you stay over 3 hours we will fine you.

    Have a nice (short) day.

      Just came back from Vancouver. The parking meters there work just fine.

      What kind of city do we live in that has the amount of vandalism that we had with parking meters?

      It cost a heck of a lot of money to install an imperfect automated system. What we have not found out yet is how much it will cost to maintain it.

      Finally, I am sure we will never find out comparative ACTUAL cost of one system versus another.

How many times do these brain-deads in City Council need us to tell them we do not want a Performing Arts Center

    39 ….. what number are we at now? I lost count.


Changing the subject somewhat, but still on development in PG, I’d like to vent about why PG is not trying to keep seniors, baby boomers, etc… here!
My kids and grandkids live here, I like it here, BUT I live in a huge home with large yard cworth approx $300,000. I would like to downsize but I’d like a small home, about 800-900 sq.ft., one story, with a small piece of yard for some planters and a patio. I would like to pay about $150,000. I don’t have a problem paying Reasonable strata fees. However, where are there such homes?? Why are they not considering building some of these instead of homes that are $300,000 plus!
Oh, and these homes should be west of town, NOT ON THE HART, seniors do not want to travel across town to get to Costco, Superstore, Cdn attire, Walmart and all the other numerous stores situated west of town.
Many other cities have these, so I guess they want us to move away! Why would you move from a home you own outright that is worth $300,000 and buy one that is smaller for more $$$$????? It would be nice to realize a bit of a profit from the sale of your house when you’re downsizing!
I do like Morgan Estates on Alden, but why don’t they expand it, there’s lots of land there, and put in some double wide mobile homes? Or on some of the other vacant lands in that area. This would be ideal and I bet they’d sell quickly. ……unless of course, they charge $200-300,000 for them…..then I guess I’ll have to stay put!

    The issue of downsizing after living in a place for 30 to 40 years and getting less space and property for your money is a Canada wide issue.

    The City has little if no control over what developers build. The developers are the ones taking the risk of building spec houses.

    If you want something else built, buy a lot, pick a plan from a book or get a home designer to draw up the plans you like and get it built.

    I cannot locate Morgan Estates on Alden on a map or through MLS.

      It is 7100 Aldeen Rd, past Walmart on Bear Rd past Westgate. Drive up Aldeen to Morgan Estates and take a left into the park.

    “I would like to pay about $150,000. I don’t have a problem paying Reasonable strata fees. However, where are there such homes??”

    Millar Subdivision for one. Problem is they are twice the price you are willing to pay.

    Property in the city is assessed around $100,000 these days, no matter where you go. The new 900 SF house will come in at about $200,000.

    You do get a granite kitchen counter top with that, however as well as laminated flooring with a 1/8 inch wood face. ;-)

Amazing that they can build them in Okanagan. Great mobile home parks there for seniors, so why isn’t there more of them here, not everyone wants to move south!

    I agree the city strategy for the last 40-years has been corporate tax cuts to major industrial to fuel job growth. Sticking it to the residential development to pick up the shortfall. Its been an utter stagnant failure of a strategy and no one wants to admit this at city hall.

    Other city, especially during good times, require certain percentages of developments are for other aspects of the population. Their strategy is to build livable cities and benefit from capital inflows from people wanting to live in those cities bring their pensions, and the government funding for services that comes with population growth.

    For every 2-3 retiree that stays in a community its like having a corporation invest a $1 million dollars in capital to that community over the course of their lives. This is lost on a city like PG that has no city planner, because its cheaper not to have one….

The city once paid a million dollars for ‘air space’ above their own parkade that the city paid to build. That pretty much sums up the credibility of the city planning department when it comes to follow through on a plan.

It is too bad nearly a decade later they still can’t build a single condo in that ‘air space’. With all the government subsidies it speaks volumes about the potential for people to want to live in our downtown as currently configured.

The downtown has two major problems with development IMO.

#1 The water table is just feet below the surface along most of George and Patricia boulevard. This limits options for parking, mass transit, and locating things like utility rooms below ground.

#2 The air quality is compromised by an oil refinery just 1km away across the river. The proximity is just too close for people to want to live (long term) in the immediate area past Winnipeg street through downtown to the river.

So we have a lot of sunk costs in our downtown from prior council decisions to force downtown revitalization through land acquisitions (buying and closing tax paying enterprises in the process); and investing heavily in the most compromised areas of the downtown where private money is not likely to spend large capital investments (see #1 above).

Any successful city I have seen has two things:

#1 The ability to move large volumes of people into and out of the downtown. PG is severely limited to any growth in this capability due to its limited ability to have sub surface parking. This is huge problem number one, but barely registers with city planning.

#2 The ability to have a quality safe walking experience that encourages people movement through ease of movement free from traffic on the street and presenting quality assortments of retail and service enterprises. Downtown PG street level fails in this regard.

I think the solution is twofold:

#1 Downtown parking. I would propose we level the whole square blocks east and west of George between 3rd and 4th and have it all ground level parkade for two stories of parking with the ability to have up to 6-story wood structures built above the block sized parkades. These could be hotels, office space, and potentially condos, or maybe a block sized shopping complex with an inner 6-story atrium. Maybe specialize into some corporate legal industries like tech, or government related in a sort of free trade zone for the downtown as part of the development. Then…

#2 Move the pedestrian level up from the parking street level in the area from 3rd and George down to 5th and George and moving west from there. This could be done at the same time as the parkades to give second level over the street pedestrian access from the courthouse all down George to the Ramada. Make a circle tour out of it for walkers and have all the buildings above the parkades storefronting to the second level pedestrian catwalks. Lots of cities do this; even small ones like Spokane.

Eventually the spill over from the available parking and above street level pedestrian walkways will make visiting the area convenient even during hockey games, and events at the civic center or Canada Plaza. The streets in between these two areas could be designated for a higher entertainment area corridor….


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