The square is shaping up.
Port Coquitlam council unanimously voted to advance a six-storey project that would put 108 apartments overtop a commercial podium at Leigh Square and Wilson Avenue during Tuesday’s committee of council meeting. The project still needs to come back to council before any shovels hit the ground.
Consisting of four city-owned lots arrayed over more than 40,000 square feet, the site is currently occupied by parking lots and a small commercial building.
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“You won’t be able to get more downtown than living here,” Mayor Brad West said Tuesday.
The project is a “huge vote of confidence in our downtown,” West said, emphasizing the need to have partners willing to invest in that vision.
The NorthStar Developments proposal includes 16,730 square feet of ground floor commercial space, with Port Coquitlam owning three units consisting of 7,786 square feet.
The commercial space is earmarked for restaurants, cafes, retail, personal service and office uses. However, city staff recommended against allowing thrift stores, dollar stores, payday cheque cashing outlets, gold for cash stores, adult stores, and stands where the primary business is connected to e-cigarettes or vaping.
- Studios: 10
- One-bedroom units: 48 (19 with a den)
- Two-bedroom units: 40 (20 with a den)
- Three-bedroom units: 10
The units range from 525 to 1,000 square feet.
Generally, the city would require about 187 parking spots for a development of this size. However, NorthStar Developments is pitching a plan that includes 124 parking stalls. In place of the other 63 spots, the developer would pay the city approximately $2.52 million.
Discussing whether Port Coquitlam’s parking requirements have been too onerous, Mayor West said “every piece of analysis” he’s seen has indicated the city’s parking standards are too high.
The days of parking directly in front of the store, running in, running out and getting out of downtown are coming to an end, West said.
“The downtown we’re trying to create is one where you come downtown and you stay downtown,” he said, adding that there will be “adequate parking.”
The development is also set to include car and bike share programs as well as extra bicycle storage and a one-year transit pass subsidy for each apartment.
Extra density, no nonmarket housing
When granting extra floor space in a development, the city typically asks for 10 percent of that extra space to be reserved for at least four units of non-market rental housing.
However, the extra space in this particular development adds up to 1,548 square feet and was deemed too small to accommodate four units of housing.
Instead of providing non-market rental housing, NorthStar Developments would pay the city an extra $77,400, or about $50 per square foot.
Including the density bonus and the parking reduction money, the developer is set to pay the city a total of approximately $3.3 million.
Port Coquitlam staff are set to draw up a comprehensive development zone bylaw for council’s approval.