Nelson releases full White Building proposal

A rendering of the proposed third floor reception area in the City of Nelson
A rendering of the proposed third floor reception area in the City of Nelson's proposal to the Regional District of Central Kootenay on sharing space in the White Building
— image credit: City of Nelson

The City of Nelson offered to buy the Regional District of Central Kootenay's Lakeside Drive headquarters to help entice them to move into the city-owned White Building, according to a proposal package made public Tuesday.

The 54-page document was submitted to the regional district on January 7 — and rejected by the board in a 19-1 vote during a closed-door meeting Thursday.

The city offered the regional district ownership of its own space in 310 Ward Street based on the city's original purchase price, along with a "flexible ownership structure" ranging from a long-term lease to formal title.

Under the proposed terms, the RDCK would have paid $1.232 million to buy into the White Building, below its assessed value of $1.81 million. The building, now home to city hall and provincial government ministries, would be restyled "Government Place."

The city would in turn buy the RDCK's present building for its assessed value of $1.73 million, leaving a difference of $496,000 for a tenant improvement reserve. It's not clear what the city planned to do with the RDCK's building.

At the White Building the city offered to improve the lobby, add a shower facility, and cost-share in a new boardroom/council chambers, pegging its contribution at $200,000. The regional district would be responsible for its own moving and legal costs, while operations and maintenance would be split on the same terms as other tenants.

The majority of RDCK staff, including administration, finance, and environmental and community services would have been located on a refurbished third floor, while development services staff for both local governments would have shared space on the second floor, along with a new boardroom.

Information technology staff would have shared the lower level. The proposal estimated IT savings at more than $50,000 per year, although there is no indication how this figure was arrived at.

In all, the proposal included 13,200 square feet of dedicated space plus about 3,200 square feet of shared space for a total of 16,400 square feet — over 4,000 square feet more than 202 Lakeside Drive.

As far as parking, the city said the regional district could buy onsite stalls at the city's original purchase price of $3,500 each (the current value is $5,600) or lease space at the same rate as other tenants ($35 per month). The city would also issue annual parking passes to RDCK directors at no cost, usable at both the parkade and metered spots.

The move, the city said, would increase the RDCK's presence and visibility by moving them out of an industrially-zoned area into a prominent, high-traffic location. They further suggested co-location would result in efficiencies through shared services and expertise.

In a news release issued along with the release of the proposal, mayor John Dooley said the proposal met all of the regional district's space requirements and left room for growth.

“We offered Class A office space in the downtown core in one of the most energy efficient and technologically advanced buildings in the Kootenays,” he said. “And it would have been so convenient for our customers — the public.”

Attached to the proposal were letters of endorsement from Ministry of Highways manager Hugh Eberle and government agent Joyce Edmonds — whose agencies are both building tenants — as well as Nelson Chamber of Commerce president Justin Pelant.

The regional district rejected the proposal after receiving a consultant's preliminary assessment and some staff analysis, but the city said it didn't feel it was given a fair shake.

In turning down the White Building option, the regional district will instead renovate its existing office at 202 Lakeside Drive at a cost of $400,000 to $600,000.

The city's full proposal can be found below.



310 Ward Street Proposal


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