Open house fills the house


Neepawa 55 Front

By Ken Waddell
The Neepawa Banner
Zen Development held an open house at the former Neepawa-Gladstone Co-op grocery store in downtown Neepawa on Wednesday night. Only one word can describe the response and that's "overwhelming". James and Carla Janzen and John Lavich, of Zen Development, had prepared for 40 to 50 people but about 75 showed up to have a quick first look at their proposed 55Plus seniors housing project.

Lavich and James Janzen jointly described the project as being tentatively a four floor complex with street level parking and eight suites on each of three levels above the parking garage. "The current plan calls for two bedroom suites with all appliances and in-suite laundry," said Janzen. Whether the suites will have an extra half bath or will be rental, life lease or condos will depend on the survey results. Lavich explained, "The building will be attached to the old co-op store and people will have access to the gymnasium, a restaurant and any other services or stores that may be located in the existing building. If we have enough demand, we can build a second 24 unit complex attached as well."
People in attendance were asked to sign in as well as fill out a survey asking they wanted to see in the project. At least one person was willing to place a deposit on a suite, something that the developers weren't expecting at this stage.
Another meeting is being planned in 1 to 2 months where a more detailed floor plan and ownership details will be made available. Lavich said, "It depends on what people want, we can build it or get the ownership based on what people want. All we want tonight is some indication as to what the public wants in housing."
Many of the people in attendance had been hoping to get a place in the proposed Kinsmen Seniors Inc. facility that had made application for Manitoba Housing funding. The Kinsmen project had been scheduled for the former East View Lodge site but the Manitoba government money didn't come through. Over 20 projects applied for funding but only five were approved - Neepawa wasn't on the list. The Kinsmen Seniors Housing Inc group are planning to revamp the plan and are still working on a proposal for the former East View site.The Kinsmen will have to get cooperation from the Town of Neepawa who have title to the site. If a seniors affordable housing project can't be developed on the EVL site, the land will revert to the province and be put up for sale.
Zen Development has had considerable housing development success in Neepawa. Their first project was a 10-unit townhouse project in Westcreek just north of the Country Meadows Personal Care Home. Their next project was a three phase set of townhouses on Commerce Street, east of the Yellowhead Centre. Two projects were 12 suite units and the third has nine units. They have all been rented or sold.