Trail council has given the green light for a traffic pattern change in downtown Trail.
The section of Spokane Street that splits two gravel lots on the Esplanade, will be permanently closed this fall. Shutting down the block nearest the river, is to allow re-development of the former Crown Point into a boutique hotel, restaurant and conference centre.
That means there will be no direct vehicular access to the Esplanade from Spokane Street. Instead, all traffic will have to use Dewdney Avenue, which is a one-way southbound lane (back alley).
The primary use for the street that will remain open (just off Bay Avenue adjacent to the old Crown Point), is to service the new development as well as businesses and (apartments) across the street, explained Trail Mayor Mike Martin.
He clarified the entirety of both lots is not included in the sale.
“Lot A,” located directly behind the former Crown Point, will be sold to the hotel’s new owners, BOAZ Enterprises. But only a small portion of “Lot B,” nearer to Jubilee Park, is included in the sale.
“As part of that, the city will retain ownership of a fair chunk of land (Lot B),” Martin said. “(BOAZ) does not need both full lots, a portion will be retained for use of the city.”
BOAZ Enterprises, a Trail-based “hotels/motels” organization, is seeking to purchase the land as a vital guest amenity – the lots will provide parking spaces for exclusive use of the hotel.
The company and city hall jointly issued a Letter of Intent to the public last fall, announcing the $205,000 purchase.
Since then, there’s been plenty of behind-the-scenes preparation, including a downtown parking study and drawing up a new ordinance. On Monday, the process inched closer to finality when Trail council gave three readings to its “Highway Dedication Removal Bylaw.” Essentially, the bylaw authorizes the closure of the road to traffic, thereby allowing the city to raise title and sell the property.
“With respect to the portions of Spokane Street and Dewdney Avenue suggested for disposition … the Community Charter provides that the ownership of every highway (street, road, lane, bridge, viaduct and any other way open to public use), in a municipality is vested in the municipality – with some exceptions,” explained Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac.”However, although ownership rests with the city, it is not “titled” property as would be needed for ownership to be transferred to BOAZ.”
The advancement of the bylaw is consistent with the developed parking plan, and has been accepted by BOAZ as well as city council as part of the ongoing negotiations to sell the city property, confirmed Chief Administrative Officer David Perehudoff.
“The adoption of the bylaw that will authorize the closure of the road to traffic, will then allow the city to raise title and sell the property as part of the transaction,” he added. “And allow the developer to proceed with the significant investment with the confidence that the parking requirements are appropriately met.”
Another legal hurdle involves the province.
McIsaac noted, “Because the portion of highway to be closed is within 800 metres of an arterial highway (Highway 3B), the Ministry of Transportation’s approval of the bylaw is required prior to adoption.”
Legalese aside, BOAZ’s commitment to spend millions refurbishing the building, and its close proximity to the Riverfront Centre and Columbia River Skywalk, is another move toward revitalizing downtown Trail, said Martin.
“(And) an exciting opportunity as our downtown core continues to develop and evolve into an exciting and vibrant hub for our region.”
Taking into account the downtown parking study as well as Silver City Days 2017, the timeline for the final agreement is set for early fall.
“We have reached agreement with BOAZ Enterprises for the sale of the city-owned Esplanade lands to serve as parking for the redevelopment of the Crown Point Hotel and are hoping to be in a position to sign off on the agreement for the sale within the next few weeks, with the transfer of ownership to follow on September 1, 2017,” confirmed McIsaac.
“Our solicitors are presently working on finalizing the agreement of purchase and sale and the associated documentation.,” she said. “To facilitate the sale, the city intends to close a portion of Spokane Street between the two Esplanade lots and would then retain a portion of the southerly lot. Advertising of the proposed road closure and the disposition of the lands as required by the Community Charter will be arranged in May.”