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City of Nanaimo looking for developers to fill hole downtown

City seeking proposals for former Jean Burns property at Commercial and Terminal
The City of Nanaimo wants to hear from developers interested redeveloping the old Jean Burns site at the intersection of Terminal Avenue and Commercial Street. (News Bulletin file photo)

The City of Nanaimo is looking for proposals for the former Jean Burns property and has issued a call for expressions of interest to take on the job of redeveloping property at 6 Commercial St.

In March 2016, the Jean Burns building was extensively damaged by fire and it was demolished in November 2017, leaving a vacant property in the downtown core. The city acquired the 1,020-square-metre property in 2021.

According to a city press release, city council is keen to see the site at the intersection of Commercial Street and Terminal Avenue returned to productive use.

The site’s redevelopment would complement a range of capital investments the city plans for the downtown core in the next few years that include improvements to Terminal Avenue starting in July and revitalization of Commercial Street starting in the fall. The city is also working with B.C. Transit and the Regional District of Nanaimo to create a new transit exchange in the downtown core starting in 2024.

The city is asking for developers to bring forward their ideas for how 6 Commercial St. could be redeveloped. City council is interested in a project that includes ground-floor retail and housing on the upper floors.

“Proposals [will be] evaluated on the proposed purchase price, financial feasibility of the project, strength of the project team, the inclusion of some non-market housing and any value added components the developer believes they can bring to the project,” noted the release.

Submissions are due by Sept. 5 and will be reviewed by council in the fall.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog noted in the release that the former Jean Burns property is one of the most high-profile vacant sites in the city.

“When council acquired the property in 2021, our goal was to see the property brought back into productive use and to help reinvigorate the downtown,” he said. “This expression of interest process allows council to receive proposals and identify a project that is the best fit for our community.”

To learn more, visit the call for redevelopment proposals online.

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