Developer ready to proceed with historic site 0
Plans are underway for a development that combines a historic piece of the Crowsnest Pass with high-end residential condo units.
Greg Bueckert of Construx Construction told The Promoter that after lengthy negotiations, his project to build a new multi-residential development at the former Cameron School site is now back on board and plans are proceeding to get shovels in the ground by fall.
In an era when most developers tear down the old to make room for the new, Bueckert's passion is to restore old brick buildings and incorporate history into newer projects.
Cameron School, built in 1920, had two rooms added in 1953 to accommodate more students but has remained closed since 1969. Bueckert bought the property in 2006 and plans to utilize both the school and surrounding property to build 26-28 units that retain the historic flavour of the structure.
Cameron Village, as he's named it, will consist of eight to 10 units inside the school and another 18 condos in new buildings using the vacant space around the condos. The new units will be built to match the old brick building and the school will be salvaged as much as possible.
Although the municipality approved the development permit some time ago, Bueckert said he now has a development agreement in place for the first phase. This includes two 3-plexes on the east side of the site and two-storey townhouse/condos of 1,400 to 1,600 square feet.
Erickson & Sons in Cowley have been retained to do the construction and will hire local people as much as possible, said Bueckert.
"We're gearing up for fall," he said. "We'd like to be in the ground with the foundation in October, build over the winter and start selling by spring."
There have also been some minor changes and improvements to the original design, he said, such as bay windows in each unit. He is also looking at including attached garages in the back of each unit with a sun patio on top.
"If someone is living in it, they want something nice," said Bueckert. "I'm excited thinking about it."
Although there have been frustrations with the speed of progress, Bueckert admitted these types of developments can take a long time, but said he has a good working relationship with the municipality.
"This development is not so big that it can't be done," he said. "It just takes a long, long time."
Bueckert's initial idea was to start construction in the fall of 2011, but the municipality demanded more engineering studies and the building season was missed. They'd also asked for security for the entire proposal in the amount of $573,000 and off-site levy fees of about $5,000 per unit.
Bueckert said he's already invested about $900,000 of his own money in the project including an engineering study, a building analysis and an environmental study. He's hired two engineers including a structural engineer who said the building was sound and could be utilized for Bueckert's intended purpose.
Bueckert said these issues have now been resolved and settled to everyone's satisfaction.
"I'd need pretty deep pockets so it's important to keep the project small and manage it in chunks," he said. "It's nice to work on an amicable basis with the town and builders," he said.
Bueckert said the old school is a great structure with significant historical architectural characters. He wants to upgrade and restore the outer façade, the brickwork, staircase, old fir beams and high ceilings.
"I want to take it to the bones and do it properly. to utilize what's there," he said. "Having new development in the area would completely revitalize it and help improve neighbouring property values."
"Yes, it's an eyesore but I want to spiff it up and make the community proud of it. It's my personal passion to restore old brick buildings and the school is ideal," said Bueckert.
"The Crowsnest Pass has lost so much of its history and I want to use this as a nice living accommodation."