There are high hopes for a North Kamloops property so notoriously mismanaged its owner was once fined $314,000 for neglect.
On Friday, two property developers finalized a deal to buy the infamous Residences at Sun Valley Ridge, formerly named the Clearview Manor, for $3.4 million.
Since 2009, the 42-unit rental building on Cherry Avenue has been scandalized by innumerable stories of safety defects, drug busts and poor living conditions.
After more than five years on the market, the building was acquired by Gilles Ladouceur of Kelowna and Verner Hoock of Germany, who say they believe in Kamloops and what it has to offer.
“You can call us visionaries or whatever — for investors it’s always what can be, it’s not what is,” said Ladouceur while surveying the building on Tuesday afternoon.
The partners in Kelowna’s Rockwood Homes said they intend to start on a long list of improvements right away.
“There is a standard we need to offer that’s a no-brainer and that’s where we have to bring this property up to,” said Ladouceur.
“Just everyday things that makes somebody feel more comfortable living there.”
That includes everything from cosmetic and infrastructure upgrades to mechanical, safety and storage needs.
But the partners don’t intend to launch into wholesale renovations that would lead to tenant evictions.
“Not in the near future,” said Ladouceur. “It’s not a teardown.”
They also don’t intend to raise the rent, saying the current monthly rate of $600 to $900 is consistent with what the Kamloops market will bear.
That’s a relief for Bob Watson, the building’s manager for the last three years.
“There’s not a lot of low-income housing left in Kamloops,” he said, adding that tenants are sometimes referred to him through the ASK Wellness advocacy group.
After all the promises he has heard from the previous owner, Watson said he’s being cautiously optimistic.
“I think it’ll do good for here if they do what they say they’re going to do,” said Watson.
Former owner Jason Hari of Surrey spent years listening to angry backlash from his tenants, the City of Kamloops and the RCMP.
Residents once went without heat or water for a month during a winter cold snap, owing to a payment dispute for a new boiler.
Hari perpetually denied disputes and insisted he was improving the building — called a “blatant ghetto” by a local social activist.
Despite his denials, in September 2009, a B.C. Supreme Court justice fined Hari $1,000 for each day of non-compliance with fire code, adding up to $314,000 in fines. That was later reduced to $31,400.
The property has been on the market for five years, according to the original listing agent, Michael Marckwort of NAI Commercial Realty.
But prospective buyers needed only Google the property’s address to go from possible deal to bust, he said.
A few years ago he decided to broaden the buyer pool by partnering with another NAI listing agent, Peter Seed.
“It’s a bright new day in North Kamloops,” said Seed.