Geoff Greenwell stands in front of the former Bethel-First Bapist Church

Worker, senior accommodations planned at former church in Prince Rupert

What was formerly a place of worship may help alleviate housing shortages in Prince Rupert.

What was formerly a place of worship may help alleviate housing shortages in Prince Rupert, with a company proposing to convert a closed church into a complex for project workers and, later, seniors.

The Bethel-First Baptist Church on India Avenue closed its doors earlier this year, with Greenwell Asset Management purchasing the building. The company plans to spend approximately $1.4 million to remodel it into a high-end, multi-unit housing complex for industrial project workers needing temporary housing, and eventually for the elderly.

“Our idea is to build this so down the road it could be converted into a seniors facility. We’re designing it to be senior-friendly. Once the construction boom is over, our intention would be to turn it into an assisted living facility,” said Geoff Greenwell of Greenwell Asset Management.

“In the short-term, if you can run it as a rooming house you can offset an awful lot of the costs. Otherwise you’re passing on those costs to seniors.”

The blueprint is already complete, with the company seeking approval to square out the roof of the building where church services were held to to allow for a second floor.

In total, 18 suites are laid out in the design, all 400 sq. ft. in size and consisting of a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living space.

Plans are to construct 10 units in the former church service congregating area, along with eight units on the upper and lower levels of what was previously church offices. The basement would house a laundry facility, utilities and storage.

“We’re going to preserve some of the architectural components. It would be a shame to tear a place like this apart,” Greenwell said.

The building’s exterior would also be transformed, using cedar and wood for a stylish appearance.

There is enough space out front to park 18 cars, or one car per unit.

Demolition has begun, with Greenwell Asset Management submitting a rezoning application to the city last week. If approved, the renovation would start right away.

“With places like this, if you don’t deal with them quickly they end up derelict … the idea is to renovate quickly so that doesn’t become a problem,” he said, noting a watchman is currently living on site.