Prince Rupert City Council and residents heard the recommendation to purchase the old GM McCarthy building, just off Highway 16, for new public works facilities with the sale and renovations at a cost of more than $5 million, on Jan. 9.
In an update report at a regular council meeting, Richard Pucci director of operations and intergovernmental relations, told council the operations and finance departments have been working closely and estimate completion of the needed renovations to be in late 2023 at a cost of $5m, which includes the purchase cost of the property, but not the lease costs.
Pucci pointed out that with the “uncertain times” costs could “see some escalation”.
Initial estimates for building a completely new facility were at $7 million, so alternative solutions were investigated by city staff.
“Staff approached the owners of the closed GM dealership, as it was determined that that space was available and it fit the needs of the public works, but some renovations required,” Pucci’s said. “The owners and the city entered into a lease with an option to purchase.”
Councillor Nick Ady asked how much additional the lease costs were, inquiring “as a matter of public interest” about the initial $7 million estimate for new facilities compared to $5 m for purchase and reno, with an unknown lease cost.
City Manager Rob Buchan responded that releasing information on the lease cost may be a confidentiality issue and he would have to report back at the next meeting on the matter.
Ady additionally asked for a more detailed breakdown of the $5 million.
“So the $5 million is a combination of what we estimate the renovation cost would be and the purchase price of the building, which we have an understanding through a 2022 assessment. However, the exact numbers, I don’t believe we could release that assessment number,” Pucci said.
“I did what anybody out there could do and that’s look up the property value on BC assessment. In their last assessment, the 2022 assessment was around 1.5 million. So I guess I would hope … there would be some reference to that in terms of when we do start looking at what the purchase price might be.”
Pucci said an evaluation by proper certified appraiser will be undertaken and the assessment will be indicated at pre-renovation value.
Pucci explained the need for new public works facilities as the current public works yard dates back to the early 1950s and has seen little renewal over the years. In 2016 an assessment rendered some of the buildings suitable for transient use only due to many safety hazards, including the presence of mould, electrical code non-compliances and structural deficiencies.
Second-had portables were brought in as a temporary measure for staff to work in. They are now nearing the end of their usefulness, with roof leaks, heating and electrical issues occurring.
“So far, we’ve completed a functional design assessment that determined what goes where in the building. We have completed an RFP (Request for Proposal) and are awarding the mezzanine to be put back in, which will be for office space. We’re completing an HVAC review right now, and designs are underway for a new lunchroom, washroom, locker room and first aid area.”