Construction has started on a new office building expected to become the Prince George headquarters of an 80-employee company.
Construction crews have begun laying out the footprint for the concrete foundation of the 21,170 square-foot two-storey building, located in the Spruceland subdivision at 700 Kinsmen Place.
The project required a development variance permit, which was approved unanimously by city council in June, against the advice of city director of planning and development Deanna Wasnik.
The site now cleared for the building once housed the Triad Racquets and Fitness Centre, which was destroyed in a fire May 18, 1991, and has been vacant ever since. The lot, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Stuart Drive, is next to the building that houses Skyline Dental and TC Energy.
Wasnik had advised council the project is not consistent with C4 zoning regulations intended to encourage developers to build downtown. She pointed out that the project goes against the city’s official community plan, whose policies are designed to restrict urban sprawl.
“It is very important to support and build downtown, but it is also important to support locations like this,” Coun. Garth Frizzell said at the June 20 council meeting.
Under the C4 zoning, as it applied to the property before the variance, the maximum floor area allowed for office use is normally 560 sq. metres (6,028 sq. feet), and the maximum allowable floor area for any single office tenancy is 280 sq. metres (3.014 sq. feet). City council approved increasing both those areas to 1,967 sq. metres for the Kinsmen Place project.
The project is being built by Prince George developer Rod McLeod. In a May 30 letter to the city, McLeod said the proposed development is to house the offices of a major tenant which has other offices in B.C. and is looking for “representation in the North.”
“Although we are in a confidentiality agreement with the tenant there is a lease agreement in place if the variance is approved,” McLeod wrote. “This is a great, long-term and reliable tenant for Prince George which would employ approximately 80 employees and provide reliable tax revenue to the City of Prince George.”
McLeod also stated in the letter there were no sites downtown that meet the tenant’s requirements. He said the tenant has agreed to a 10-year lease for the building, which would accommodate 80 workers and have 68 parking stalls.
The 33,977 square-foot property, which listed for $349,000, has been sold. Excavators were brought in to remove the concrete remnants of the Triad Club and clear the forested land to allow for the new building.