Changes are coming to Castlegar’s downtown.
During the Castlegar & District Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Business event last Thursday, Tammy Verigin-Burk, executive director of the chamber, announced that a developer is planning to build 200 units of student housing somewhere downtown.
“We have a developer who is looking at building two student housing [buildings], up to six stories, a hundred units [each]. They have the money, they’re ready to go, they just need to cinch the deal on a couple of lots,” said Verigin-Burk.
According to her, there is a big need for student housing in Castlegar.
“We have a shortfall — 300 students are without housing projected for the next five years. It’s very bad right now. A lot of our students are living in Trail, Nelson, wherever they can find. Some of them are living four to six of them in a one-bedroom apartment, so that is definitely the biggest need,” said Verigin-Burk.
Contacted for comment regarding the developer’s plans, Gary Leiers, vice president of college services at Selkirk College, replied: “Any efforts by the private sector to increase housing availability that will impact Selkirk College students are welcomed, but adequate transit factors significantly into where students would best be served in terms of location of housing. The college has identified the need for additional on-site units of student housing in both Castlegar and Nelson. Selkirk College is actively pursuing opportunities we hope will make those additional units a reality.”
On Monday, Verigin-Burk also added that a second developer — also with financing in place — is looking to build student housing in Castlegar’s uptown.
The hope is that the increase in the downtown core’s population will spur entrepreneurs to open new businesses and fill up empty storefronts.
Last Thursday’s Business After Business included a tour of downtown to look at some of the available spaces, but already some of them were starting to fill up.
Verigin-Burk also announced that the Kootenay Career Development Society (KCDS) will be moving into the old Kootenay Savings building at the corner of 4th Street and 11th Avenue.
Joanna Swanson-Kutasewich, the employment services centre manager for KCDS, says the organization is moving because it’s a “better location, so it will be central for our clients, so it will be a lot easier for them to access our services if we’re downtown, on the public transit route. And just being part of downtown will be wonderful.”
KCDS will be moving at the end of October and another downtown business is expected to open in a couple of months.
Derek Kittson, owner of Central City Shoes in downtown Castlegar, also owns a building on the 1200 block of 3rd Street, where he will be opening a bistro serving all-day breakfast.
“It’ll be breakfast all day and pizza by the slice and coffee and maybe we’ll get a food primary liquor license, I don’t know,” said Kittson.