Lake Country to get some much needed rental housing in place of old Airport Inn
For years it was considered a blight on the local landscape but soon the old Lakeside Airport Inn could be meeting a longstanding demand in the area.
The motel sold recently for $3.5 million and Lake Country Mayor James Baker said he’s spoken with the buyers, who have indicated they intend to develop all five acres in phases, with one of the first projects meeting local housing needs.
“Long-term rentals are something we are very short of in our community,” he said, adding that plan is not yet finalized.
“We’re so close to the airport and UBC — and they’re both economic drivers — so we have a lot of people who are professionals who aren’t looking to buy, but would like a good place to rent.”
Baker said the rental housing component is expected to be the first phase of the development although he didn't elaborate on what would follow.
That said, there’s still a lot to do before that can happen.
“The first process is the demolition and then clearing the site so they can build what they want to build,” Baker said.
“It will be nice to see it as a more usable development but they are not rushing into it.”
The property had long been a source of consternation for area residents who complained it had unhealthy and unsanitary living conditions.
Police and bylaw officers had been many times and the property was oftentimes subject to fines and legal action.
Baker said that now that the sale has gone through, the municipality would have been paid up on their fines.
“If fees aren’t paid they get added to taxes and you can’t sell a property with taxes owing,” he said. “Either the new or original owner would have paid.”
Royal LePage realtor Jeane McBride was the listing agent for previous owner Raif Fleihan. Before the buildings were boarded up and the property fenced off in May 2019, Fleihan listed it for sale at $8.1 million although it had an assessed value of $2.2 million.
Last fall, he dropped the asking price to $6.9 million.
Fleihan spent years renovating his motel while fighting with the District of Lake Country and Interior Health over permitting and health rules before the municipality ordered it closed in the summer of 2019.
That took some months to happen since a number of people were living there and needed to be relocated before it could be boarded up.
In the end, there was a suspicious fire in one of the buildings and Fleihan was convicted of assault with a weapon and he walked away from the dilapidated building.
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