NORTH SHORE’S NEW AGE: A View to a Thrilling Comeback, Kamloops This Week
This feature article appeared in the Kamloops this Week on February 9th, 2012 and was written by Jeremy Deutsch.
If you take a drive around the North Shore, it’s not hard to see — there is plenty of construction and new development.
In recent years, the cityscape of the community has started to transform.
The list of new developments and projects is as long as a drive-thru lineup during a lunch rush at the new Brocklehurst Tim Hortons outlet.
There is the new Holiday Inn and the Golden Vista Suites on Cherry Avenue.
Construction is underway on a pharmacy/residential building along Tranquille Road, while plans continue to roll along for a four-tower, 410-unit development on Cottonwood Avenue.
In Brocklehurst, there is the RiverBend seniors complex and the new Tim Hortons, while the airport got a $25-million makeover.
But, when the topic of the resurgence of the North Shore is discussed, it seems to land back at Library Square.
Standing on his sixth-floor balcony, Bill Anhorn can literally see for miles.
From his Library Square apartment, he has a view of Eighth Street heading north to Batchelor Heights, west toward the airport and east right over Northills Mall.
As the first manager of the North Shore Business Improvement Association (NSBIA) more than 20 years ago, Anhorn likes what he sees from his balcony.
“This is central to everything,” he told KTW.
For the spry senior, Library Square is within walking distance of everything he needs — the ANAVETS 290 building, the White Spot Restaurant and the mall.
After his wife passed away from cancer three years ago, Anhorn, who was living in Cottonwood Manor at the time, but then moved to the Hamlets in Westsyde, said he wasn’t quite ready to stay at a seniors’ home, so he looked at Library Square.
In 2011, he decided to make the move and, as he puts it, “come back home.”
Library Square is a unique development consisting of 151 residential units mixed with two commercial areas and the North Kamloops public library.
It was one of the first P3s in Kamloops, a public-private partnership, and has been credited with anchoring the resurgence of the neighbourhood.
“This is really going to be the centre of development,” said Anhorn, who has championed the North Shore since he moved to the city in 1968.
He said when the North Shore as a business area was first conceived, the common complaint was there was not enough traffic.
Now, he jokes, people complain there is too much.
Originally, developer Casey VanDongen was looking at building something downtown but, with the city and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District working on development incentives and the new Holiday Inn being built, the president of Tri-City Contracting opted for the North Shore and Tranquille Road.
“We thought this might come around to something, and it did,” he said.
VanDongen admits he took a risk when he decided to take his development to the North Shore and break ground on the project in 2008.
But, four years later, he wouldn’t change a thing.
He said the city has been a good partner along the way, adding the neighbourhood needed a development like Library Square to kick-start its resurgence.
Construction on the third and final phase of the development will begin later this year and, though VanDongen admits the market isn’t exactly hot, units are selling.
NSBIA manager Peter Mutrie has always been the North Shore’s most-vocal cheerleader.
He also sees Library Square as an anchor piece for the neighbourhood, but suggested its success is just part of the transformation in the area.
Mutrie believes there is an attitude change in North Kamloops, where people are happy to do business in the community and young families are taking an interest in becoming residents.
“I’m hearing, ‘Boy, the North Shore sure has changed in the last few years’,” Mutrie said.
As more people in the community own their own homes, Mutrie said ownership comes with a greater interest in taking care of the area.
“It gets to be attractive and other people want to be a part of it and be here,” he said.
The days when realtors would steer clients away from the North Shore appear long gone.
Kirsten Mason has been a real estate agent in Kamloops for four years.
She said people are taking a closer look at all areas of North Kamloops because homes are cheaper than south across the river.
The average assessed value of a home on the North Shore, including North Kamloops and Brocklehurst, in 2012 is $303,000, compared to $404,000 in Sahali and Aberdeen.
Mason noted it is a mix of buyers, from young families to seniors and investors, who see a future in the community.
In a tough real-estate market still affected by the fallout from the 2008 economic meltdown and subsequent recession, real-estate sales in some neighbourhoods on the north side of the Thompson River have remained steady over the last three years.
According to the Kamloops District Real Estate Association, home sales in Brocklehurst have essentially remained even from 2009 to 2011, making up 13 per cent of all the sales in the district.
However, North Kamloops hasn’t been as fortunate.
The neighbourhood saw its share of sales in Kamloops drop to 6.4 per cent in 2011 from 7.6 per cent in 2010 and 7.8 per cent in 2009.
Though Mason, who lives in Brocklehurst, noted there remains a negative stigma attached to living in North Kamloops, she always encourages her clients to take a good look at the area.
“There’s some really nice neighbourhoods for kids to grow up in,” she said.