Forgive them for being dense.

With two votes Monday evening, Coquitlam council approved a concrete condo skyscraper and a six-storey rental building.

“It achieves everything we’ve been pushing hard to achieve,” said Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart of the rental project.

Spanning five lots at Clarke Road, Como Lake Avenue and Elmwood, the 38-storey condo project is set to include 333 condos perched over a commercial podium and three floors of office space.

Located at the 600-block of Smith and the 700-block of Dogwood, the rental building is slated to replace four homes and a duplex with 126 rental units including 37 below-market units.

The two projects are joined by a density swap that takes more than 92,000 square feet of condo density from the project at Smith and Dogwood and plunks it at Elmwood. In return, the transfer takes 55,000 square feet of rental density from Como Lake and Clarke and puts it at Dogwood.

While that means more condos, it also means more rental in a more cost-effective wood-frame building, Stewart said, arguing the transfer improves both projects.

Coun. Bonita Zarrillo saw the arrangement differently, arguing that the density transfer means a loss of rental units at Elmwood. The six-storey rental project, Zarrillo contended, could have been entirely rental without the transfer.

“I’m not feeling comfortable supporting this application,” she said, explaining her opposition to the Elmwood project.

As one of the gateways to the city, this project has a clever design that avoids the: “boring rectangles in the sky” school of architecture, according to Coun. Dennis Marsden.

Marsden also lauded the office space, suggesting it will allow more people to work in Coquitlam as well as to commute to work via SkyTrain.

The living units range in size from 390 square-foot studios to 1,133 square-foot three-bedroom units.

Elmwood breakdown:

  • Studio and one-bedroom units: 199 (including 68 with a den)
  • Two-bedroom units: 97 (including 63 with a den)
  • Three-bedroom units: 37
  • Floor area ratio (measures a building’s total floor space against its lot size): 5.38
  • Parking spots: 434
  • Commercial space: 37,135 square feet, anticipated to create 100 jobs
  • Money: $11.1 million consisting of $6.8 million in density bonusing and $4.3 million in development cost charges. The city is also slated to receive $260,000 in voluntary contributions.
  • Height: 416 feet 
  • Lot coverage: 60 percent
  • Construction period: 42 to 48 months
  • Developer: Marcon

Council voted 8-1 in favour of the project with Zarrillo opposed.

The bulk of opposition to the Dogwood project stemmed from the same address: 711 Breslay Street.

The 126-unit rental project at Smith and Dogwood passed unanimously. graphic supplied

Residents of the Novella building suggested the six-storey wood-frame building would have a “profound” impact on both their investment and their quality of life.

The project, “was always going to be six storeys,” Stewart said, telling one speaker that the zoning on the site has existed: “since before you moved.”

The project is important and, Stewart added, it’s equally important it be finished quickly.

Dogwood breakdown

  • Studio and one-bedroom units: 90
  • Two-bedroom units: 32
  • Three-bedroom units: 4
  • Parkint spots: 141
  • Money: $1.3 million in development cost charges and $235,800 in voluntary contributions.

Both projects require one more vote from council before development can begin.