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Further delays push Townsite Market opening date

Developer aims for spring completion of revitalization project
townsite market
ONGOING PROJECT: Townsite Market on Ash Avenue has been delayed several times due to seismic upgrades and construction issues. Building owner Steve Brooks is now hoping for a spring 2018 opening. Jason Schreurs photo

An ongoing Townsite development project is closer to being complete, but its owner says it still could take until spring of 2018 for the site to fully open.

Townsite Market owner Steve Brooks bought the old Powell River Company mill stores building at Marine and Ash avenues in 2011. The development is a key part of Brooks’ plan to revitalize business in Townsite.

”It’s been a project, for sure,” said Brooks. “I’m just a computer programmer, not a commercial real estate developer. This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this.”

Once complete, the building will be home to Powell River Climbing Co-op, a public market and local businesses, including a second Base Camp Coffee location. Brooks is currently working on confirming other tenants.
The building has also been named as a potential site for a tech hub facility, pending the approval of a Powell River Community Forest grant.

Brooks said he is upfront with the fact that the project has faced delays.

“Every construction project, large or small, seems to take longer than expected and cost more than budgeted and this project, with all of its complexities, has taken longer and cost more than originally thought,” he said.

Powell River building designer and contractor John Spick has been working on the project as its general contractor.

“The project had a bit more involved in the base building than the owner expected,” said Spick.

Spick said the east and west walls of the building had to be completely rebuilt to bring it up to current seismic resistance standards.

He added that the fire-protection system had to be enhanced in parts of the building to allow for use of some of the building’s original doors from the 1940s.

The building is nearing the point where a Vancouver-based architect will be able to sign off on partial occupancy, said Spick.

City of Powell River building inspector Graeme Stewart said he is waiting for the architect to indicate that the built-out portion of the building is safe for the public.

Climbing co-op organizer Tracy Raftl said the building’s opening will allow the co-op to access the balance of a Powell River Community Forest grant to finish paying for its climbing wall.

“This is the most frustrating part, because we owe a lot of money and we were told a long time ago that it was only going to be a few more months,” said Raftl.

She said the company that installed the climbing wall was aware the co-op would not be able to pay until the building was open to the public.

Raftl said the co-op does not place any blame on Brooks for the delays and added that they were to be expected with such a large project.

“He's been working on the building and we've been working on our space,” said Raftl. “Even if we were all finished we wouldn't be able to open because the building still isn't ready."

Raftl added that the climbing co-op is looking at a fall opening for the gym.

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