Dream rises in North Kamloops
For more than six years, the land was vacant at the northeast corner of Tranquille Road and Wood Street in North Kamloops .
Then, in late 2011, Missagh Manshadi saw the land he had owned all those years broken as construction began on his vision — a structure that would house a pharmacy, a medical clinic and seniors’ housing, and have space for other commercial ventures, ideally all focused on health.
Later this month, Manshadi Pharmacy will open in the almost 34,000-square-foot, $8-million structure, which will house his second drug store in the city.
There are already some seniors living upstairs in the housing he included in the project.
“I’m thrilled that he put that building up in that neighbourhood,” said Dawn Hrycun, head of the Door to Roof Society that has been involved in renovating housing in the area to add to the affordable-housing stock in Kamloops.
“It was really needed and it has changed what that street looks like.
“And, as new construction, it has long sustainability. You renovate something that’s already there and it’s really just a renovated building. But, this is a good vision for the North Shore.”
Manshadi hopes the city agrees with viewpoints like that of Hrycun and puts more attention on the North Shore.
Allocating money to install street lights, for example, should not be a news item in his mind, but something that is simply done — yet Manshadi said he was called to comment for a story about the project that will see lights installed on Tranquille from Leigh Road to Sydney Avenue.
The pharmacist sees the North Shore in a positive cycle now, with construction of the new library branch and Library Square.
“I want to make sure the city and council are with us,” he said.
“We want the city to do their job and we, business, will do our job.”
Manshadi sees part of his job as involving the creation of an integrated medical centre.
The anchor is in place — a state-of-the-art medical clinic that could house up to six doctors.
He didn’t spare the expense creating it, Manshadi said, ensuring everything, including a major data-transmission centre, is included to make the clinic the best it can be.
Attention was spent to little details, such as a large area to store samples, a counter in a hallway where doctors can make a quick stop to check something on their way to examination rooms, the best ventilation and air-flow possible and efficient design.
Adjacent to the centre is the pharmacy, which is scheduled to open later this month.
In his vision, Manshadi sees complementary medical services opening in the remaining commercial part of the building so people do not have to travel to several locations for health-care needs.
The need for his vision to be fulfilled led Manshadi to hire Unitech Construction Management to create the building. The Vancouver company has extensive experience in building medical facilities.
“Boxes. People build boxes,” Manshadi said, “but, beauty and esthetic is important and was important when we built it. So, when I told them to cut some angles, make some space, they knew what it was I wanted.’
Open space in a building is an area that can’t be leased and won’t generate income.
“But, it should look good,” Manshadi said of the building.
Because contractors had to use adjacent Elizabeth Fry Society-owned land to access the constructtion site, Manshadi built that housing complex a playground for children as a thank-you gift.
There were, however, hiccups along the way.
A major one came when his plan to have the Door to Roof Society run the residential component fell through.
Manshadi said he wanted to add affordable housing for seniors to the city and had applied for that through the city’s program that provides incentives for such construction, but the plan fell through and the housing — still targeted at seniors — is now being handled by a property-management company.
Dave Freeman, the city’s real-estate manager, explained the program allows for tax exemptions when affordable housing is built. but the guidelines only work with non-profit societies doing the construction.
This was the first time the city had dealt with a “private sector, socially conscious developer that wanted to provide affordable housing,” Freeman said.
After many discussions about options, it didn’t work out in the end.
“What he’s doing,” Freeman said, “is wonderful.”
Manshadi is hoping the clinic fills soon with other health-care professionals joining him in completing the vision.
He noted the North Shore has few doctors or complementary medical services.
“There is an opportunity here for health-care professionals to come to town and do a viable business here. The most vulnerable people are the people who need the most care and they don’t have it on the North Shore.
“There has been tremendous change in Kamloops,” Manshadi said of the 13 years that have passed since he moved to the Tournament Capital in 2000 and opened his first pharmacy.
“And we have come a long way. The mayor and council, now they just have to wake up. They can’t forget about this part of the city.”