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Apartment construction underway in Yellowknife's former Bellanca Building

Apartment construction underway in Yellowknife's former Bellanca Building


The former Bellanca Building, long the centerpiece of downtown Yellowknife, is gleaming.

The former federal government building will soon become The Nesta, a 72-unit apartment building with retail space on the ground floor.

Owner Borealis Development Co. said construction will begin on April 1 and aims to open in late 2024 or early 2025. Developer and co-founder Afzal Suri says the opening will be achieved on an “aggressive” schedule.

“We have a very short construction period, so we really hope to open this year. So far, everything is going according to plan,” he said.

Suri said costs had increased slightly, but declined to provide figures.

“Everything's cost has gone up over the last few years and we've adjusted,” he said. “We're still well within our means.”

Borealis Development purchased Bellanca and the adjacent parking lot in 2022 for $1.4 million. The building was famously vacant for 10 years before he purchased it.

Parts of the building currently have no windows and are clearly hollow inside, with 36 one-bedroom apartments and 36 two-bedroom apartments.

Suri told CBC News that some units will be certified as affordable housing and will be the same as commercial units. The developer said it plans to determine the number of affordable units closer to opening.

Parallel benefits

Aislinn Sterling Crosby, co-owner of Overlander Sports across the street, said she's excited the building will bring new vibrancy and business to downtown Yellowknife. Her only concern is the lack of parking, which she says is an ongoing issue in the area.

“I’m really excited to see something go into that building,” she said.

“We certainly have concerns that this will create more parking problems than we already have… Our parking lots are already being used by many people going elsewhere in the downtown core. It's been abused, but they want the free parking that we're thinking of.'' We'll give you plenty of it.'' ”

Sterling Crosby said she hopes people living at The Nest work downtown and don't need cars.

Suri said he was confident that would happen.

“At the end of the day, we believe most tenants who work and live centrally don’t need a car because most amenities are conveniently located within a five-minute walk,” he said .

The company said it has plans to expand the parking lot at The Nest, but would not release details at this time.

Nest will also provide three vehicles for residents to use as part of its car-sharing program.

Suri said she looks forward to filling the two retail spaces on the building's ground floor and bringing more business to the area, in keeping with Yellowknife's vision of downtown revitalization.

“We are excited to get this off the ground,” he said. “This is the first of its kind and we hope it will inspire others to do the same.”




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