Grocery store pitched for St. Johns St, in 6-storey development on heritage parcel

Conceptual drawings of the potential Bosa Foods building on St. Johns Street. image supplied

Another parcel in Port Moody’s heritage conservation area could be developed into a six-storey building, with a much-needed grocery store for the area.

Cornerstone Architecture submitted their preliminary application to the city and received feedback from council on Feb. 21.

“I would love to see this project come to fruition,” said Mayor Meghan Lahti. “I do have a lot of support for the idea of bringing in this type of grocery store into that little neck of the woods.”

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The mixed-use project on the 2300 Block of St. Johns Street includes 47 market rental units overtop a Bosa Foods grocery store on the bottom floor.

An amendment to the Official Community Plan (OCP) would be needed, as the two parcels under consideration only allow building heights of three and four storeys.

Staff noted an OCP amendment should consider the site’s proximity to Kyle Park, Kyle Centre, and commercial services, amenities and public transit. 

The area lacks access to a grocery store, and the proposal meets the city’s policy for family oriented unit sizes, staff stated.

These factors would need to be weighed against the density, height, massing, and design characteristics with respect to the heritage area, according to the staff report.

The site is adjacent to a heritage home.

Scott Kennedy, principal of Cornerstone Architecture, said they are hoping the city will allow the density increase in exchange for the market rental units being offered.

“We all know rental housing is a much more difficult financial thing to do, so we’re asking for a bit more,” Kennedy said.

The unit mix proposed for the six-storey building.

The steep slope on the site somewhat mitigates the proposed height, staff said, as the southwest corner would only appear as four storeys. Staff said a view impact study would be required.

The proposal also meets the city’s policy regarding unit sizes for family oriented developments.

There would be a total of 79 parking spaces within an underground parkade, with 22 stalls shared by grocery store patrons and visitors. 

Staff are asking the applicants to consider adding more trees, space for public art, on-site outdoor amenities, play space and garden facilities.

Another issue commented on by staff is the proposal’s inclusion of an outdoor patio, which would interfere with the city’s plan to build a multi-use path in the area.

They added the site only includes four adaptable units. Zoning requires at least 50 percent.

Council comments

Councillors were generally positive to the application, but had some critiques. 

All were happy about the prospect of adding a grocery store to the area.

Coun. Callan Morrison said the shared parking spaces between visitors and patrons could become problematic.

The area has very limited street parking, which would be worsened if Kyle Centre is developed in the future, he added.

Morrison suggested the project could actually add more multi-bedroom units, as the square footage of each unit was larger than usual.

“You’ve got very generous one-bedroom unit sizes, at 815 square feet, two-bedrooms at 840 to 950 square feet,” he said. “That’s the size of many three bedroom units that are being built.”

Coun. Diana Dilworth said she thought that the project is mostly focusing on the grocery store component, and greater emphasis needs to be placed on the housing.

She stated the city would not likely budge on the 50 percent adaptable unit requirements.

The only councillor to voice reservations about the proposal’s size, and heritage area location, was Coun. Haven Lurbiecki.

While she complimented the overall concept, Lurbiecki said OCP amendments should be rare, and had concerns regarding overbuilding the site.

She noted the building would cover more than 90 percent of the lot, and suggested that the number of units should possibly be reduced.

Although the city needs market rentals, it also needs below market housing. Lurbiecki added.

Referencing discussions over the Coronation Park development earlier that night, she said there’s a continual lack of affordable housing in development proposals.

“It’s very much at the front of my mind,” she said.

Responding to lot coverage comments, Kennedy said the grocery store needs to have a certain footprint for loading and parking requirements.

He added that they were willing to make design changes, and the critiques raised by staff and council could be all addressed. 

“This is an early exploration … to see if there’s some support for a project like this. And certainly there’s lots of enhancement of the design that we can do.”

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