New condos set to go up in Uptown

Paul Saroya’s new proposed mixed-used commercial and residential development will rise to new heights in Alberni’s Uptown.

Paul Saroya’s new uptown development on Third Avenue will feature commercial units below and four floors of residential units above.

Paul Saroya believes that his brand new $6 million condominium proposed for Third Avenue will be a welcome addition to the uptown area.

City council approved Saroya’s proposal to have the height of his planned building exceed the four storey (14 metre) limit.

“It will be a big building with condo units for sale,” said developer Paul Saroya.

“Two bedrooms, two washrooms.”

Below, there will be eight commercial units, according to Saroya.

Saroya, who was criticized by city council for the state of his current and former real estate ventures, said the criticism was unfair as the situations are different.

“These units will be for sale, not rent.”

Coun. Denis Sauve, who expressed concern over rental units done by Saroya in Uptown, said that for sale condo units are better than rental ones.

“Hearing that it will be sold as condos does make me feel a little better,” said Sauve.

“But there’s still so much more I need to know about the design.”

Saroya currently owns the Beaufort Hotel and owned low-rent buildings on Fourth Avenue. Those buildings, he said, had problems from the start and turned out to be a poor investment.

According to Saroya, problems with the buildings on Fourth Avenue included drunks intimidating tenants, as well as regular break-ins.

“I made a wrong choice with those buildings,” said Saroya.

“Guys would terrorize tenants and no one wanted to live there anymore.”

As far as the Beaufort Hotel is concerned, Saroya said he put $100,000 into improving it.

“A new roof, new smoke detectors in each room, new doors, security cameras,” he said, adding that the washrooms and kitchens in the 21-unit hotel have also been upgraded.

Plans to upgrade the building further cost Saroya a further $60,000 but they never came to fruition due to their high cost of implementation.

“Then I got a plan for $9 million to renovate… I’m not a rich guy, just an ordinary person,” Saroya said.

“No one will lend me that much, it’s not economical.”

Saroya hopes that his new development on Third Avenue will avoid the issues that plagued his buildings on Fourth Avenue.

“I will ask for assistance from the RCMP,” he said.

“I don’t want an old lady to move in and then someone steal their purse.”

Saroya, who’s owned the uptown lot for almost a decade, said he’s tired of paying taxes for an empty lot and would like to do something with his property.

“I’ve been paying taxes and it’s my right to build,” he said.

The building variance that Saroya had asked for from city council involved having five rather than four storeys. This would raise the height from 14 metres to 17 metres.

City planner Scott Smith had previously stated that Saroya  can build on the vacant Third Avenue lot regardless of whether or not council grants him  the variance­—the building would just have to be shorter.

“It’s a vacant lot in the middle of downtown… if more people live there, more people will shop their. But it needs to be cleaned up,” said Saroya.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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