Developer seeks tax relief for Mountain View revitalization

Gareth Jones is asking for tax relief for 10 years while he develops Revelstoke's historic Mountain View Elementary

Gareth Jones is looking to transform Mountain View Elementary into a mix of distillery

The developer of Mountain View Elementary is seeking tax relief while it works to renovate the old school building.

Gareth Jones, who has an agreement in place to purchase the 100-year-old building from the Revelstoke School District, is asking the City of Revelstoke for 10 years of tax relief while work is done on the building to restore it and bring it up to modern standards.

He is also asking for the city to waive an $18,000 fee to upgrade the water line to the building in order to install a sprinkler system.

“Given the magnitude of the investment that will be required in order to meet heritage requirements, I request relief of property taxes for years one to five. A phase-in of taxes is proposed for years six to 10, with full property taxation taking place in year 10,” wrote Jones in his application. “This is a unique provision allowed for in a Heritage Revitalization Agreement and is one that will allow all available funds to be directed towards the restoration of the property, ensuring that the project is financially viable.”

Jones is proposing to transform the building into a mixed-use space, with a medical clinic on the bottom floor; a distillery, bar and restaurant on the main floor, and an apartment upstairs. He has a deal in place to acquire the school, pending the approval of a rezoning application and Heritage Revitalization Agreement with the city.

He made his request for tax relief as part of his application, which is going to council for the first time on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

The application would change the zoning to commercial from institutional, while the HRA would set out the uses allowed in the building and provides for the protection of its heritage values.

The requested uses are for medical or dental offices or clinic; business offices, commercial retail, a cafe & restaurant, a craft distillery or craft brewery; a liquor primary establishment and a single-family dwelling.

Photo: Gareth Jones. ~ By Evan Buhler, Black Press file photo

Jones says he will renovate the 12,750-square-foot interior while maintaining the heritage character of the building. In his application, he says he will conform to Parks Canada’ Standards & Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.

“A careful balance will be required in order to retain the heritage character of the building yet undertake a flexible range of interior demising and finishing, life safety requirements and exterior remediation changes to address the removal of the additions,” Jones wrote. “These are all costs that I, as the future owner of the building, will incur to enable the adaptive reuse of this heritage building.”

The application also calls for 15 parking stalls, bicycle parking, a drop off and pick up location on Third Street, and the restoration of the exterior of the building.

Jones’ application is going to council for initial approval on Tuesday, but it will still need to go though three readings and a public hearing.

A staff report by Dean Strachan, the city’s manager of development services, says it is not known how much in future tax revenue the tax relief might cost the city. As a school, no property taxes were paid and the value of the land has not been determined by BC Assessment.

“The applicant would be making a significant investment in a property that has been recognized as important to the community for its heritage value,” wrote Strachan. “As these heritage properties quite often require significant investment in renovation, restoration and maintenance tools such as HRA were put in place for municipalities in the provincial legislation.”

Strachan’s report recommends council approve the application, including the tax relief, but the final decision is up to council.

 

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