It’s been a while, but a group of city-owned properties along Eckhardt Avenue are back in the spotlight.
There is still a lien on the nine properties related to a failed construction project, but city council decided to do some housekeeping and rezone the properties for parking.
“Since we are not changing ownership, it is still our land to rezone if we want to,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “Obviously, it is being used as a parking lot, we should formalize it and make it into a zoned parking lot.”
How fast it gets paved and brought up to the city’s official parking lot standards will be discussed during the city’s budget process this fall, according to Jakubeit.
The nine lots at the corner of Eckhardt Avenue and Alberni Street became infamous in 2012 when a project to build a dormitory for the Okanagan Hockey School fell apart.
The lands have been in limbo since early 2012 after financial backers pulled out and news broke about allegations of fraudulent business practices on the part of developer Loren Reagan.
Though Reagan had never actually completed a purchase deal, work had been done on the property and contractors, who Reagan had never paid, attempted to recover their costs by placing a $1.6-million lien on the properties, and later, in 2013, filed a civil suit against the city.
“I think the reality is it is in limbo,” said Jakubeit, speaking about the lawsuit, which remains before the courts.
The city already has overflow parking on another property on Alberni Street and last month added to the holdings by purchasing, for $1.5 million, an empty lot at the other end of Alberni St. bordering Westminster Avenue.
“I think in terms of when we were looking at that property (905 Vernon Avenue) and area, they identified that on the other end we have a quasi-parking lot,” said Jakubeit. “If we add to the facilities with other amenities, sports field or whatever, parking probably will be an issue. It probably makes more sense to have that as a parking area to augment this process.”