A 118-unit, four-storey seniors housing complex being proposed at 4500 Ospika Blvd., near the intersection of Ospika and Tyner Boulevards, appears to be in violation of an agreement between the developer and the City of Prince George.
Vancouver-based developer The Hub Collection Ltd. has proposed to build The Heights Prince George, a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units with ground-level parking and a central courtyard space on the property.
The City of Prince George sold the land to the developer in 2020, on the condition they would build a 256-unit student housing complex on the 5.6-hectare lot within 24 months. As of Wednesday, the lot had been cleared, but no construction was underway.
On July 29, 2020, The Hub Collection bought the lot from the City of Prince George for $500,000, according to a copy of the purchase agreement obtained by an area resident through a freedom of information request and provided to The Citizen in 2021. BC Assessment valued the land at $682,000 in its 2020 assessment. That value grew to $758,000 in the 2021 assessment and $3.127 million in the 2022 assessment.
A covenant attached to the purchase agreement says: "The Covenantor will commence construction of the proposed student housing project upon the Property and will have completed framing on or before 24 months following the completion of the purchase of the lands."
In addition, the covenant says that The Hub Collection may not apply for any building permit that is not "in the City's opinion, substantially in the form as indicated in the Plans and Specifications."
"The Property will be developed and built upon in strict accordance with the Covenantor's plans and specifications for the proposed Student Housing Project shown in the attached Schedule 'A'," the covenant agreement says.
Under the covenant, if The Hub Collection is "in breach or default of any of the material covenants or agreements," in the deal, the City of Prince George has the "exclusive and irrevocable option" to purchase the land, including all improvements, back for $485,000.
"Given the public interest in the development and use of the Property in accordance with this Agreement, the public interest weighs strongly against any modification, cancellation or discharge of this Agreement..." the document says.
"The City continues to work with the applicant on the development of the property through our typical development processes and procedures," a statement issued by the city this week said. "We confirm that a building permit has not been issued for the proposed student housing complex and we are determining what approvals are needed, including a modification related to the covenant, prior to advancing the application."
The City of Prince George’s Advisory Committee on Development Design was scheduled to review the proposed design for the facility during a meeting on Wednesday, which was cancelled.
The previously-proposed student housing complex at the site drew some concerns and opposition from area residents, primarily regarding increased traffic.
During the City of Prince George’s public consultation period on the housing project from March 12 to April 9, 2021, the city received 26 letters and a 21-name petition against the proposal and nine letters in support. The applicant also submitted a petition with over 40 signatures in favour of the project, however, only 31 of the signatories were from Prince George.
Following a public hearing on May 31, 2021, city council approved a rezoning and official community plan amendment for the land. Final approval was unanimously approved by city council on Aug. 16, 2021.
The company’s website says the student housing facility is under construction and expected to open in summer of 2023. However, as of Wednesday there was no active construction happening at the site along Ospika Boulevard, which has been cleared and fenced.
A spokesperson The Hub Collection Ltd. did not respond for comment.
Editor's note: This is a corrected version of this story.