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Park Place officials ask for rezoning to meet retail giant’s 2014 opening, but rivals question application 0

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Park Place officials are hoping to change the city's Official Plan and zoning bylaw for 100 Mapleview Dr. E., to give developer North American more flexibility for phasing the building of Park Place. Mark Wanzel Photo

Park Place officials are hoping to change the city's Official Plan and zoning bylaw for 100 Mapleview Dr. E., to give developer North American more flexibility for phasing the building of Park Place. Mark Wanzel Photo

Park Place officials are asking to tinker with plans for the south-Barrie retail development — with a bigger Target in mind.

A public meeting was held Monday on an application to change the city’s Official Plan and zoning bylaw for 100 Mapleview Dr. E., to give developer North American more flexibility for phasing the building of Park Place.

Terry Coughlin, of North American, said some of these alterations are necessary for retail giant Target to meet its planned March 7, 2014 opening in Park Place’s north end.

“We need these changes to move forward,” he said, calling Target a “powerhouse anchor” that would help attract other stores.

“We are now confident the retail business will be built out as quickly as market conditions allow,” Coughlin added.

The Park Place application includes deleting provisions requiring business and professional offices on some of its commercial lands, as well as removing construction phasing requirements there.

The minimum total footprint of the retail village would also be reduced.

Coughlin said the zoning changes need to be made by December, so work on the Target site can begin in June.

But some of Park Place’s retail competitors questioned the application. A former Barrie city council had turned down the retail development, but a 2006 Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decision approved it.

North American is now attempting to make changes to that OMB decision.

“We do have concerns this is a dramatic deviation from what was approved by the OMB,” said Todd Pierce of Calloway Reit (Barrie) and Barrie Bryne Developments, where the south end’s Walmart is located,

“It’s a drastic and wholesale change of what was already approved,” said Brad Keast of Osmington, commercial developers at the former Barrie fairgrounds on Essa Road.

Gary Bell of Skelton Brumwell, on behalf of Bell Media, which has Bryne Drive property, said it has concerns about traffic, phasing and equitable cost-sharing.

Coughlin was asked what he thought of the comments by Pierce, Keast and Bell.

“Competitors are exactly that,” Coughlin said. “It’s not in their interest to see this project (Park Place) get finished. We are all looking for the same tenants. It’s obviously in our competitive interests to build it out.”

Mady Development is building Lakeview Condominiums and Collier Place near Barrie City Hall, featuring a Sobeys grocery store, retail stores, a Bank of Montreal, condos, plus two levels of parking, and eventually a pharmacy.

In a letter to the city, Charles Mady said he has no problem with the changes to Park Place.

“As a downtown developer of office space in Barrie, I concur with this request and frankly hope they (North American) do not build such small office space, as the only practical market for this space would come from raiding the existing downtown tenants,” he said.

Mark Blake, who says he has worked for Rona and knows Target, too, said the city should let Park Place get on with its development.

“It just doesn’t look good to have that under development and not properly going,” he said. “We should let them move along so development can happen and we can get the economic benefits.”

Mayor Jeff Lehman asked if there were studies or reports on the need for more retail in Barrie. He was told they had been done.

North American says the basic elements of its Park Place development, as approved by the OMB, remain in place even with the proposed changes.

“On balance, it is pretty close to what we originally envisioned,” Coughlin said.

This is not the first time the OMB-approved plan has been changed.

In 2010, the gross floor area of the retail village was reduced and its second-floor office space removed, as was the central turning circle.

The retail village was extended south to Mapleview Drive, with more emphasis on a pedestrian entrance (actually approved in 2011) and there was an addition to the Bayview Drive turning circle. The department store was also re-oriented to become part of the retail village.

A public meeting is one of the first parts of Barrie’s planning process. This application now goes to city planning staff for a report and recommendation to councillors.

bob.bruton@sunmedia.ca

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