Aerial view of the former Terrace Co-op site along Greig Ave. in downtown Terrace. The City of Terrace owns the parcel and is looking for a developer to buy and build a multi-faceted project at the location. (Photo courtesy City of Terrace)

City of Terrace leaps into real estate market

Expects that Canada LNG project will spark developer interest

For decades the Terrace Co-operative Association’s shopping complex along Greig Ave. in downtown Terrace was a hub of activity — containing a food store, hardware store, gasbar, insurance agency, hairdresser, cafeteria and more — only to fall victim in the late 1990s to a sudden decline in the region’s forest economy and to changing shopping habits.

But with the complex long since demolished the property’s current owner, the City of Terrace, hopes to attract a developer to buy the property and bring it back to life through a blend of commercial space and residential accommodation.

Requests for proposals closed Nov. 30, a date that’s not lost on Danielle Myles, the city’s economic development officer, coming as it is just one month after LNG Canada gave the thumbs up to its $40 billion natural gas liquefaction project in Kitimat.

“It wasn’t really planned that way,” says Myles of the closing date, noting that the city received environmental clearance for the property from the provincial government just this year. “But with the [LNG Canada] project in a positive final investment decision, we know it’s spurring a lot of interest in Terrace from developers.”

Up for sale is the majority of the land — 2.78 acres —on which the shopping complex once sat. A corner lot on the northwestern end of the property was sold some years back to a group hoping to build a brewpub. That project has now been shelved and the lot is also up for sale.

The city is also keeping a section on the eastern end of the property across the street from the Best Western Hotel to itself with a view to developing a public-use space and, eventually, a museum building in conjunction with the Terrace and District Museum Society.

That’s going to be a long-term project inasmuch as the Co-op’s gasbar once sat there, meaning a comprehensive environmental mitigation program will need to be put in place first.

Myles said the city is looking for a developer to blend in its ideas for commercial and residential development with the public space and museum concept.

It’s also placing value on ideas to recognize both First Nations and pioneer heritage and culture.

“This reflects the community’s input of what they want to see on the property,” said Myles of a community task force report commissioned concerning the future of the property.

An eventual purchaser also has the benefit of a city tax credit program to stimulate development with the downtown core and, depending upon how it structures its residential component, can apply for financial help through the city’s affordable housing fund, she added.

While the city has the former Co-op lands on the market, it also closed off requests for proposals on Nov. 30 for another piece of property it owns —just under 15.5 acres bounded by the CN line to the north, Kenney Ave. on the east and Keith Ave. to the south in the light industrial area of the city’s Southside.

That property also has an environmental clean bill of health from the province based on past use mostly as a log storage yard for a sawmill near the Sande Overpass along Keith Ave. It was closed in the mid-2000s and subsequently dismantled.

Here the city is looking for a developer to follow its Keith Estates Neighbourhood Concept Plan for the area, calling for a mix of light industrial and commercial uses.

The prospect of new light industrial and commercial uses has already taken hold with the purchase from the city several years ago of an adjacent lot on the corner of Keith and Kenney by the local Toyota dealership, which is planned to move there from its current location on Hwy16.

Although the city has set a timeline of April 30, 2019 to complete the sale of both the former Terrace Co-op land and the Keith and Kenney property with development to start shortly thereafter, Myles said it is more than prepared to wait until the right developers with the right proposals surface.

“We’re not in a hurry,” she said, adding that as the full surge of the LNG Canada development becomes evident next year, there’ll be even more interest in expanding Terrace’s role as a services hub for the northwest.

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