Site preparation is underway in Harrison at 120 Esplanade Ave.

Prime lot in downtown Harrison planned for development

Site prep underway in Harrison Hot Springs for seven-story residential and commercial development

After nine years, two months and three weeks, the site of the former Springs Cafe in Harrison Hot Springs finally turned over a new leaf.

A fire claimed one of Harrison’s landmark businesses back in 2005 and has sat empty ever since. In 2007, a proposal for a 10-story mixed-use building saw criticism from locals on issues ranging from the proposed height to various design concerns. After public consultation and work with the Village, the project sat on the books for IRCA Group of Management before it was finally sold to a new set of investors.

Norman Lee is the project manager for Reon Development. He told The Observer in an interview last week that they are going to build a seven-story structure, with 56 residential condo units and commercial space on the ground floor in the empty lot, located at 120 Esplanade Ave.

“The village is very supportive of this project,” says Lee. “It’s good for the village. It’s good for everybody.”

He says they have been given permission to start on the site preparation and are currently working with staff on finalizing the criteria for the building permit.

The project manager is clear on who the target market will be for this development.

“We’re not targeting the local market,” he says. “Most of the buyers will be from Vancouver or other towns.”

He cites retirees, vacation property owners or investors as potential buyers.

Lee lives in the Lower Mainland and often comes to Harrison for a weekend getaway. Many years ago, he saw a sign for units for sale in a new development on that property. He called and says the price was higher than what he was looking for so he left it at that. But then, after a couple more years, the sign was still up so he phoned the number again.

“I tried to call the agent and found out they weren’t going to complete the project anymore,” he says.

So he found a developer for the financial backing and set to work getting the building off the books and into the building phase.

The lot, situated between the Spa Motel and the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa, is undergoing site preparation for laying the foundation now. That began February 16 and is expected to be done by the end of March.

Lee estimates that, if they get everything in order, it should take roughly one and a half to two years to complete the project, looking at early 2017 for opening.

Mayor Leo Facio is pleased the project is finally moving forward.

“It’s a great addition to the community,” says Facio. “It’s going to bring, hopefully, much-needed taxes and development cost charges that we desperately need to move forward with our infrastructure.”

He likes that it fits in with the revitalization of the village centre and that it will enhance commercial services downtown.