The City of Port Alberni’s Advisory Planning Commission has endorsed a development application for the former Fairway Market site.
Architect Raymond de Beeld and 10th Avenue Plaza property owners Marlowe-Yeoman Limited are applying to amend the “general commercial” zoning of the site to allow four storeys of multi-family residential above a commercial space.
Under its current zoning, the area is restricted to two storeys. The applicants are hoping to increase the height permitted in the zone to five storeys.
De Beeld presented a draft to the Advisory Planning Commission on Jan. 18 that shows four new commercial spaces on the ground level, with 48 residential units above those. There will also be a covered rear parkade with 34 spaces.
Director of development services Scott Smith described the area as one of the biggest commercial hubs within the community.
“This development is within the heart of the 10th and Redford commercial area,” said Smith. “This [plan] is very compatible with the area.”
The 10th Avenue Plaza is within proximity of Echo Centre, and is also attached to the “arterial roads” of 10th Avenue and Redford Street.
Smith said a traffic study might need to be completed, and he also recommended that a sun study be completed to show what the shadow effect might be on adjacent properties.
Sewer and water, he said, should not be an issue, as the area is already surrounded by sewer and water lines. The lines simply need connections within the mall, and this can be completed with the help of the city’s engineering department.
City council liaison Denis Sauvé was concerned about parking, which only allows 34 spaces for 48 residences. “The parking lot is used fully by the businesses there,” he pointed out.
De Beeld said the plan was for one and two bedroom rental units, mostly marketed to young professionals and retired baby boomers, who won’t all be driving. The building will be wheelchair accessible, with plans for an elevator to be installed.
He noted that many cities across the province are moving to “condense” their commercial and residential spaces so people aren’t so reliant on cars.
“It is of benefit to the community to have that mixed use,” he said.
De Beeld said that they have focused on one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as only four storeys, because of parking concerns and cost. There is also the challenge of adding storeys between two existing buildings.
“Generally, the taller it is, the more expensive it is,” he said.
The applicants do not have extensive plans for the development yet, but they are hoping to hold a public information session (date, time and location to be later announced) before a public hearing is held at council chambers.
“If anyone has concerns, we want to deal with that before a public hearing,” said de Beeld. “We’re not all ears on everything that goes on in town.”
The committee agreed to support the proposal, which will be brought to the Tuesday, Feb. 13 meeting of council.
“I think it’s going to be a huge benefit to the community,” said committee member Amy Anaka.
She brought up the Thunderbird apartments on Third Avenue, which was also designed by de Beeld, and currently has a waitlist for hopeful renters.
“This will be closer to senior services than the Thunderbird,” she pointed out.