Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit November 24, 2016 - 1:10 pm

To unlock old CBC building, Nunastar wants former police station

“If we were given the opportunity to purchase it, we would pay fair market value”

STEVE DUCHARME
In this computer rendition, Nunastar Properties illustrates how it wants to redevelop the old CBC building on Astro Hill: commercial space on the first level and 32 loft-style one-bedroom units on the second level. The company wants the City of Iqaluit to sell them the old RCMP building near Astro Hill so they can create road access to the proposed development. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
In this computer rendition, Nunastar Properties illustrates how it wants to redevelop the old CBC building on Astro Hill: commercial space on the first level and 32 loft-style one-bedroom units on the second level. The company wants the City of Iqaluit to sell them the old RCMP building near Astro Hill so they can create road access to the proposed development. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Nunastar executives make their pitch to Iqaluit City Council Nov. 22. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Nunastar executives make their pitch to Iqaluit City Council Nov. 22. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

A proposed redesign and expansion of the Astro Hill area in Iqaluit is on hold pending an agreement between developer Nunastar Properties and the City of Iqaluit to decide the fate of the old RCMP building located near the site.

Nunastar executives appeared before Iqaluit City Council Nov. 22 to tell the city about their plan to rebrand buildings such as the Frobisher Inn, the eight-storey apartments, Storehouse Bar and Grill and the Astro Theatre, as well as the nearby Creekside Village units and adjacent lots, into a one-stop destination to “live, work and play.”

The area would be renamed “Astro Hill Centre,” with Creekside Village dubbed “Astro Hill Landing.”

A vital cog in the proposed project is the soon-to-be vacated CBC office adjacent to the Astro Theatre, which Nunastar Properties says will be renovated into a multi-level commercial and residential space dubbed “Astro Hill Lofts.”

CBC is moving into a new Nunastar building on Queen Elizabeth Way, beside Creekside Village and across from the Arctic Ventures store.

What’s the hitch? Nunastar says it needs road access to the old CBC building through the old RCMP detachment lot, which was picked up last winter by the City of Iqaluit in a package of properties relinquished by the federal government.

“We’ve investigated, and council has the opportunity to work directly with an adjacent property owner if the property is needed for an expansion of land,” Nunastar Properties’ chief operating officer, Bruce Alton, told councillors.

“We’re very interested in this property, and if we were given the opportunity to purchase it, we would pay fair market value,” Alton said, adding that Nunastar would likely demolish the derelict building, as well as take on any environmental cleanup of the lot, which, according to preliminary assessments, seems a certainty.

Alton said Nunastar would consider building additional housing units on the site, as the zoning for the lot already permits that use.

Alton said an agreement between the city and Nunastar could pave the way for a proper ring road around Astro Hill, which would facilitate emergency services, along with the needed road access for the developer.

According to the Nunastar pitch, the renovated CBC building would hold commercial space on the first floor, as well as 32 one-bedroom “loft-style” units on the second floor.

Several councillors seemed to support the idea: Coun. Jason Rochon noted that the project could help alleviate Iqaluit’s housing crisis.

“I would be happy if you guys got the opportunity to purchase it,” Rochon said in support.

Coun. Megan Pizzo-Lyall reminded council that there are other local businesses that could benefit from the RCMP lot.

“On the contrary to [Rochon’s] statements, for what the rate of Nunatar’s rentals are, I think $3,000 for a two-bedroom, I don’t know how far of a stretch it is to say its going to be beneficial for the community. It’s definitely going to be beneficial for Nunastar,” she said.

The Nunastar delegation did not receive an immediate response from council to their request.

Alton told councillors that he is working closely with the city’s planning and development department, whose recommendation will ultimately be forwarded to council for approval.

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