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Buyers of the Bellanca Building in downtown Yellowknife said they planned to convert a long-vacant office tower into apartments for rent.
“We feel that’s what the city needs most right now,” Afzal Suri, director of Borealis Development Inc., the company that bought Bellanca, wrote in an email.
As first reported by Cabin RadioBorealis Development Inc. proposes to convert a former federal government office building into a 72-unit apartment building called “The Nest”, complete with penthouse suites, gym and retail space on the ground floor.
Amid the housing crisis and ongoing efforts by the city to spruce up the downtown core, such developments come as good news for some.
“In our city center, I think there’s a lot of opportunity there. Someone thinks the Bellanca Building has some opportunities, very good for them,” said city councilor and builder Niels Konge.
“To me, whenever a private business wants to make an investment, that’s a great thing. It’s so much better than a government doing it. Governments screw up almost everything they touch.”
Bellaca sat empty for a decade
The former owner of Bellanca, real estate investment giant KingSett Capital, left the 10-story building empty and in disrepair for a decade. One windy day in 2018, siding around five floors fall from outside – never replaced.
Toronto-based KingSett Capital owns several office buildings in downtown Yellowknife, and is a partial owner of Northview Canadian High Yield Housing Fundthe most prominent commercial and residential owner in the city.
Borealis Development bought Bellanca and the surrounding parking lot for $1.4 million.
According to documents filed with NWT Corporate Registries, Borealis Development was founded in August 2021 and has two directors: Suri, and Mansoor Ahmad Anjum.
Suri is the manager of The Brick store in Yellowknife, and Anjum is the shop owner.
Anjum could not be reached for comment. Suri declined an interview request, instead asking to answer questions via email.
Suri said the company plans to start construction before the end of this year, with the hope of opening the building to the public by 2024.
Asked if any units would be offered as affordable rentals, Suri wrote: “No comment.” He also declined to comment on the estimated construction costs.
The city approved a development permit for the Bellaca land, subject to certain conditions. People who say they will be negatively affected by the project have until Thursday afternoon to appeal.
The city did not respond to a CBC question about whether anyone had appealed.