City council has approved construction of a new 46-unit apartment building on the former SuperValu site in Tyee Plaza.
The move puts an end to years of speculation over what would become of the building that had been sitting empty for more than half a decade.
The deteriorating building, which was built in 1972, and an adjacent commercial building were torn down March 7 and at Monday night’s council meeting, a major development permit was before council for a four-storey multi-family building.
Coun. Larry Samson was the lone councillor who said he could not support the building application.
“I feel, in my opinion, the form and character does not meet what we’re trying to achieve in our downtown and that’s to raise the bar to a much higher level,” Samson said. “I look at Berwick which is up for numerous awards. I look at Rose Harbour, I look at small businesses like Healthyway Foods and Comfort Inn where council has asked staff to push the bar. This building, in my opinion, fails to meet that level that we’ve come to expect in our downtown.”
Coun. Ron Kerr said while he may not be a fan of the colour scheme, which in a rendering of the building shows cream, maroon and grey, he couldn’t let that get in the way.
“I have my views about the building, the colour, the shape — I’m sure everybody does — but I don’t know if I can let my own personal taste interfere with my support of the building or not,” Kerr said. “Would it have been my choice? No. But I know the builder is a quality builder. I’ll be supporting it. It’s not my personal taste but it’s a good looking building and it’s sure a heck of a lot better than what we have now.”
Plans for the building include variances in the façade, particularly on the sides visible from the street, as well as changes in siding materials and colours to help define different areas within the building.
Spruce trim and beams are proposed to run along the building and also to highlight entrance and balcony features to meet the West Coast theme guidelines in the city’s Sustainable Official Community Plan.
Matthew Fitzgerald, planner for the city, said the layout of the site is challenging because it does not allow the developer to site the building adjacent to the sidewalk.
“The building will be sited parallel to the north property boundary in a similar manner to the Comfort Inn hotel,” Fitzgerald said. “While this works with the parcel’s shape, it may not maximize the ocean view potential for the building. On the north side, the four-storey Comfort Inn building restricts the views to a relatively narrow cone, while the Tyee Plaza building will restrict the views for the south units to a slightly wider cone, but only for the top two storeys.”
Coun. Charlie Cornfield said it’s unfortunate the building won’t capitalize on the view but said he still supports the project.
“To me, I think that would be a selling point but I think that’s their business,” Cornfield said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Mayor Andy Adams said he’s pleased to see the development come to fruition.
“Council’s strategic priority is to get residential housing in our downtown core, that has been first and foremost,” Adams said. “This is the first developer looking to do significant residential in the downtown core.”
Fitzgerald echoed those sentiments.
“On a macro level, this is an exciting development which will see some of the first rental apartment units being added to the downtown area in many years,” he said.
“This is compounded by the fact the proposal reuses a long vacant site and adds a new use to the Tyee Plaza shopping centre.”