Nanaimo city council received assurances that plans are progressing to redevelop an empty seaside building.
Councillors were presented Monday with a staff report regarding the Amrikko’s building across from Departure Bay Beach. The building at 1400 Wingrove St. was heavily damaged by fire in October 2013, and, following a complaint, was deemed unsightly and recently cleaned up by the city.
Ian Niamath, project architect, told councillors Monday that work on the building “has taken considerable time because there are many issues to be resolved,” noting that the building owners changed their minds at one point about what sort of development they wanted for the property.
“The reason for my presence here tonight is to dispel the perception that nothing is happening,” Niamath said. “In fact, quite a lot is happening behind the scenes.”
According to the staff report, an application for a three-storey mixed-use building was brought to the design advisory panel in September and could be brought before council in late April.
“You’re about to get something very good and very valuable for the whole neighbourhood,” Niamath said.
Coun. Jerry Hong said he’s excited for something really good and said the neighbourhood deserves it.
“Your building right now is really ugly. It’s going to be demolished no matter what. In order for you to make it really good, I can’t see you keeping that structure the way it is,” Hong said. “So why aren’t you demolishing it?”
The architect replied that some of the materials from the existing building can be saved and reused.
“We have to fence the property and get on with demolition at the right time and we want to do that in a logical order and logical sequence,” Niamath said.
He said the building’s owners are “anxious to get this moving” and don’t wish to see further delays.
Council could have motioned for a remedial action order requiring that the building be demolished or brought up to standard, but chose only to receive the staff report.