Macro Properties closed Neptune Inn in April 2015, making way for a new re-purposing of the building for seniors housing. File photo

Hilltop Lodge gains Prince Rupert council approval

Site of former Neptune Motor Inn to become seniors housing complex on Chamberlin Avenue

A proposal by property management company Macro Properties to convert the former Neptune Motel to a seniors housing complex has received the green light from city council.

After a public hearing held Monday, June 12 at city hall where Imran Jivraj, director of property management at Macro, gave the company’s final case for the conversion of the now-empty motel into a seniors’ housing complex in a heavy industrial zone at 1051 Chamberlin Ave, Prince Rupert council unanimously carried third readings and adopted two bylaw amendments to enable the transition.

Council changed the lot in the Quality of Life Official Community Plan (QLOCP) from a ‘Business Industrial’ designation to ‘Residential.’ As well, council amended a zoning bylaw that previously designated the property as ‘Light Industrial Zone’ (M1) to ‘Multiple Family Residential Zone (RM2).

The moves are the last municipal hurdles the proponent must leap before completing its renovations and open the units to tenants once renovations are completed.

“In 20-30 years, the youngest seniors [aged] 50-75 will outnumber the older seniors by three-to-one. The lack of seniors housing in Prince Rupert is very well-documented, especially for independent living seniors 55-and-over on fixed income,” said Jivraj, adding that 24 per cent of Rupert’s population is between the ages of 55- and 74-years-old.

Macro’s rent structure will offer 36 units to the community who are 55-and-older at a rate of $650-$800 per month depending on the size of the unit, with furnishings, heat, hydro, cable and Internet included in the price. Opportunities to pay more for services like laundry and cleaning also may be available. “It’s not public housing, it’s self-funded … and we’ll be fostering independent living,” said the director.

The project received an endorsement from the only other public hearing speaker Brian Musgrave, owner of Hilltop’s neighbour, Rainbow Chrysler Dodge Jeep on Chamberlin Avenue.

“There’s lots of different uses that can occur in that area, but having a building vacant for as long as it has been has not been a good thing in the area itself,” said Musgrave.

“Macro Properties has probably been one of the best neighbours we could have asked for over the years. Every question that I’ve had to ask has been answered fully … just a voice of full support and I look forward to the completion of the project.”

Council members agreed that from a ground-up build, this would not be the ideal location for a complex, but utilizing existing assets and renovating the units to make them accessible is the best way forward for a community strapped for independent seniors housing.

“This is definitely a plus to the community and it’s a plus to a certain proportion of the community for the price the rooms are going to be,” said Coun. Barry Cunningham.

“It’s definitely a good re-purposing of a building which is why I’m supporting it,” added Coun. Wade Niesh.

Macro wasn’t successful in negotiating with BC Transit on locating a bus stop closer to the complex, but said that contracting taxi services at certain times of the day, utilizing HandyDART and walking to the closest stop are options for seniors who don’t own their own vehicles.

Outdoor social space like a gazebo and additional green landscaping is planned for the property, with the building receiving a new roof, new windows, flooring, kitchenettes, and first-floor bathrooms receiving stand-up showers, low-flush toilets, grab bars and non-slip flooring.

A laundry room is planned to be added to the main floor and a former restaurant and dining space would become a communal social space.

“I’m looking forward to seeing this get off the ground,” said Mayor Lee Brain.

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