Cezary Ksiazek has been working to develop this empty lot in Lower Rossland for nearly a decade. He hopes his latest plan will win city and public approval. Photo: John Boivin.

Rossland developer hopes project will bring affordable seniors’ housing

Cezary Ksiazek has been trying to build on the old Cooke St School site for years

A Rossland builder is taking another crack at turning an empty lot on Thompson Avenue into affordable housing for seniors and young families in the community.

And he hopes to be breaking ground on the project by next summer.

“Half the Emcon lot is being used to build housing for young people,” says Cezary Ksiazek. “Rossland says it is a senior-friendly community. So now it’s time to do something for seniors.”

It’s not Ksiazek’s first attempt to develop the former Cooke Avenue School property, as it’s known. Originally purchased in 2011 by a group of investors, he got the zoning on the site changed from public institutional to mixed residential in 2014. That would have allowed him to build six fourplexes on the site.

However, public opposition to the development, and several years of wrangling with city staff over details stalled the project. He said at the time the city’s demands made the project uneconomical.

SEE: Rossland council hears neighbourhood thoughts on Cooke Ave. lot

SEE: Density discussed in-depth at council meeting

But he says a recent meeting he had with Mayor Kathy Moore about the project prompted him to try again.

“Kathy Moore said, ‘Cezare, you have to do something for seniors,’” he recalls her saying. “‘Seniors here need affordable housing.’”

He says there’s a huge demand for seniors’ affordable housing in town.

“I noticed at Esling Park Lodge the waiting list for apartments is so long… if we applied when we were 20, we would have a chance,” he says. “It’s so long they’re not even accepting new applications.”

Instead of building six fourplex units, Ksiazek says he’ll build three fourplexes for young families, and use the larger second lot on the property to build one multi-unit building for seniors.

“The idea is to put something for [people aged] 55-plus, with elevator, carports, wheelchair accessible, a clubhouse, etc.,” he says. “The idea is to make it one building. My architect says he can come up with a nice design here.”

Ksiazek says the property is one of the last empty lots in the city, and is close to downtown by foot or by public transit.

“This is a good spot. We have to make changes, it needs rezoning,” he says. “It’s zoned for fourplexes. We can’t build fourplexes for seniors. So we have to talk to city planners. We have to talk to council about how many units we can squeeze in here, because more units makes it less expensive.”

Ksiazek says he plans to start geotechnical work on the project in October. He’ll then work with an architectural firm for a rough design, and bring that plan to council and the public for approval.

He figures the total cost for the Cooke Street project will be in the $8 million range.

He plans to do the affordable housing in conjunction with a more upscale project he’s planning on Iron Colt Road, in order to cut overall construction costs.

Ksiazek, known as the Rossland Builder around town, has been building homes in the city for nearly 20 years.

Now that he’s nearing retirement, he says he wants to give back to the community that welcomed him all those years ago.

“I am 63,” he says. “When I was 10, my dad passed away. When I was 12, my mom passed away. I know what it’s like to be growing up hungry, with the refrigerator empty.

“But basically my life after that — I can’t complain. I have a beautiful wife, beautiful kids and grandson. So God has taken care of me. So maybe I should pay back.”

But after almost a decade of wrangling over the site, he’s not counting his chickens before they’re hatched.

“There’s a saying in Polish, ‘don’t say it was a good day before the sun sets,’” he says.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Cannings: MPs working from home important during Covid

“Ottawa is a hot spot for the virus at present … “

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Times reporter recalls John Turner’s return to Rossland home

“Mr. Turner treated my wife, Gerry, and I like we were long lost friends.” - Jim Swettenham

B.C. government to destroy old-growth caribou habitat

Letter from Wildsight Conservation Specialist Eddie Petryshen

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read