Emelie McCaughey does her routine on the uneven bars at FitKidz Gymnastics Club in this file photo. The City of Penticton is putting out an expression of interest regarding the sale of the city-owned Ellis Street property. Western News file photo

FitKidz to remain open for now

The owner of the gymnastics club says she will remain open regardless if the city-owned property is sold.

With the pending sale of the city-owned Ellis Street property it has occupied for nearly five years, FitKidz Gymnastics Club has no plans of shutting down.

“We are not sure, yet, exactly what will happen,” said FitKidz owner Annette Card, whose five-year lease with the municipality runs out this year. “I am sure we will have a lot of families supporting us. Either way, we will stay in business.”

In October 2017 the city received an unsolicited offer to buy the land at 199 Ellis St., which was previously known as the “bus barn” when the 7,800-square foot building was used as a Greyhound bus repair shop.

Related:FitKidz takes over bus barn

Under the city’s newly created land disposition policy offers must be evaluated to determine if a purchase meets the criteria required for sale, which, in this case, at a Feb. 20 in-camera meeting, council determined the offer did not.

As part of the policy, council then directed staff to issue and expression of interest (IOE) to “assess the market’s broader interest.”

Any party, including those who made the original offer, can come forward.

“The expression of interest will likely go out next week to see if anybody else has some good ideas for the property,” said Penticton planning manager Blake Laven. “There are a few things that we would like to see, like a bridge. We also want to see creek improvements incorporated into any requests that come forward.

“Really, that’s an area you could go residential, you could go commercial, you could go mixed use.”

He added that, in the event the property is sold to a private buyer, the city would work with FitKidz to relocate.

“We have a few options (for relocation) downtown as well as elsewhere,” said Laven. “This isn’t a situation where we’re going to say ‘go find something.’ They’ve been a great tenant.

“Since FitKidz opened up, it’s really activated that area. We’re talking 700 families coming down there and utilizing that facility. But you get an opportunity and a real good vision for a city-owned property, you have to put it out there.”

The current timeline is to have the expression of interest come back to council in June or July with the public engagement process and negotiations in late summer.

As well, under the land disposition policy, council is not committed to any offers and may choose not to sell the property.

The policy was established to provide an open and competitive process around the sale or disposal of municipal lands.

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