The City of Penticton has added another piece of land to its inventory, but the mayor isn’t sure yet what use it will be put to.
The city purchased a 1.495 acre lot, formerly the site of the Jade Garden restaurant, for $1.55 million. The 903 Vernon Ave. property is directly opposite the South Okanagan Events Centre complex.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said there is no specific use planned for the property, which was formerly owned by Robin Agur. Instead, city council viewed it as a strategic acquisition.
“The adjacent property is probably our largest community asset we have,” said Jakubeit. “Moving forward, that will serve us well, even though we haven’t quite defined what we are going to do with it. That’s something we just went out and did.”
Jakubeit said the property is considered a prime location for sport fields, new or replacement facilities for aging infrastructure, parking or other public amenities.
“To make the Events Centre work, back in the day, we had to spend a lot of money on buying the adjacent properties. So when an adjacent property came up, it was felt it would be a strategic opportunity to capitalize on, so when we are ready to expand, whatever that is, it is there,” said Jakubeit. “When you plan a city, you don’t look at it one or two years down the road, you are looking at five, 10, 15, 20 years.”
Jakubeit said that council hadn’t considered re-issuing a request for expressions of interest from developers interested in building a hotel, now that they have a new adjacent property. An EOI was issued in May 2015 for a hotel directly on the SOEC campus, which the city said was needed for growth. That EOI failed after a parks covenant on the land surfaced and council decided not to move ahead with any of the applicants.
The $1.5 million cost of the property was paid for out of the city’s land acquisition fund, which Jakubeit said contained ample funds.