Good riddance downtown eyesore

City block of empty commercial buildings are being demolished in Campbell River, but what's coming next?

A worker wearing a hazmat suit removes insulation from one of the condemned buildings.

The downtown eyesore will soon be gone.

Demolition began this week on the block of aging commercial businesses located below city hall. What was largely empty stores for several years will soon become a big empty space.

But what is coming next remains a mystery as Seymour Pacific Developments isn’t saying just yet what it has in store for the property.

Seymour, located across the street from the block, applied for the demolition permit, and company CEO Sean Roy was preparing a media release which is expected to be issued Monday.

There’s some speculation a multi-storey glass tower could be built on the site, but, for now, the city is just happy to see the old buildings gone.

“While no development application has yet been submitted to the city, anticipated new development on the site will be another positive step forward in the revitalization of the downtown core,” said Ross Blackwell, the city’s land use services manager, in a news release.

Fencing now surrounds the land bordered by Alder, Dubeau and Beech streets, and St. Ann’s Road. Demolition started Wednesday as crews pried off facia boards and others donned hazmat suits to remove insulation and other potentially hazardous materials.

“These buildings have sat vacant for several years and are showing serious signs of aging and neglect,” Blackwell said. “It’s encouraging to see this tax exemption bylaw is recognized as an important economic development tool, and we hope property owners and developers will capitalize on this opportunity and further revitalize the downtown core.”

The area is subject to a downtown revitalization tax incentive that promotes and provides an economic stimulus to encourage revitalization.

The Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw was amended in 2011 as an incentive for property owners to invest in new projects within a key focused area of the downtown core.

The long-term objective of these agreements is to create places that attract pedestrians, commercial activity and residential development.

The buildings in the 100 block of St. Ann’s Rd. were built starting in 1949 and have housed various businesses over the years, including a cabinet shop, restaurant, barber, book store, antique shop, florist and offices.

The building at 943 Alder St. was built in 1955 for Overwaitea Foods and was used in 2004 for the Salvation Army’s Light House Center.