News Local

Five Points development passes with no discussion

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Barrie councillors gave initial approval Monday to a rezoning that would allow a 20-storey condo tower of 203 units, ground-floor commercial use and five storeys for 196 parking spots at the northwest intersection of Bayfield and Dunlop streets. Kirkor Architects rendering

Barrie councillors gave initial approval Monday to a rezoning that would allow a 20-storey condo tower of 203 units, ground-floor commercial use and five storeys for 196 parking spots at the northwest intersection of Bayfield and Dunlop streets. Kirkor Architects rendering

Barrie councillors can count to 20, and they want to in the city’s downtown.

Councillors gave initial approval Monday to a rezoning that would allow a 20-storey condo tower of 203 units, ground-floor commercial use and five storeys for 196 parking spots at the northwest intersection of Bayfield and Dunlop streets.

There was no discussion, only approval by councillors.

City council will consider final approval of this motion Dec. 5.

But Mayor Jeff Lehman said there will be other controls in place, specifically the development’s site plan – which is often handled by planning staff.

“It means the site plan for this site, because it’s so significant to the city, will be bumped up to council,” he said.

“The site plan must be approved before the zoning is passed,” Lehman said, “so that means many of the details will be back to council.”

Coun. Rose Romita, who represents the downtown, has said it will attract other development to the core.

A massive fire there in late 2007 destroyed buildings at this corner, leaving a key downtown property largely vacant since then.

Advance Tech Developments' plans ask for a building twice as tall as the zoning allows (10 storeys) – plus reductions in the required building stepping setback provisions, from the lot line, fewer parking spaces than Barrie's zoning bylaw requires, a drop in the required minimum commercial floor space, balconies extending farther into the required yard setback and removing the required landscape buffer strip at the rear and side lots.

The redevelopment, if approved by city council, could also include nine one-bedroom affordable rental housing units, for a minimum of 20 years, and public space.

The public space, an external plaza, would be adjacent to the corner of Bayfield and Dunlop streets. Interchangeable art panels are proposed above the plaza, on the building's face.

The affordable housing units and public space would be considered a community benefit.

Ontario's Planning Act allows municipalities to get community benefits from developers, and Barrie's Official Plan has allowed them since 1997. But they were updated last year to make them more transparent, and to better define the benefits.

The city's bonusing policies trade more height and density to developers for community benefits, providing planning merits exist.

This can mean affordable housing, public art, parks equipment, better transit connections, etc. can come back in exchange for allowing higher, denser buildings than the city zoning bylaw allows.

The value of community benefits would be about 25% of the difference between the property's value under the existing zoning, and its value after being rezoned.

The project's public spaces and affordable housing units meet 25% of that value, say city staff, calculated at $500,000.

If built as proposed, this development would also fatten city coffers – an estimated $735,946 in annual property taxes, $4.25 million in one-time development charges and cash-in-lieu of parkland of nearly $5 million, another one-time fee.

This L-shaped property's legal address is 2-14 Dunlop St. W., 40-43 Maple Ave. and 30-40 Bayfield St.; it's nearly three-quarters of an acre in size. Three buildings on it front onto Bayfield and Maple, and a portion of the site at Bayfield and Dunlop is used as a parkette.

The rezoning application is to Central Area Commercial, with special provisions, from Central Area Commercial.

Downtown Barrie towers given a break on their height is the rule, rather than the exception.

Virtually every major condominium project in the city centre has been granted an exception to the height bylaw: Grand Harbour, Waterview, Nautica, Watercrest, Bayshore Landing and Marina Bays I and II. These buildings exceed the height bylaw, anywhere from five metres in Marina Bay's case to 18 metres, or approximately six storeys, in Bayshore Landing's case.

Tall buildings can revitalize a city by providing an influx of new residents and businesses to an area. They give people more choice where to live, work, shop and recreate, and often within walking distance of each other. This also helps limit urban sprawl, which is expensive to local governments on a number of fronts.

Barrie began experiencing tremendous population growth pressures in the late 1980s. This included proposals for several highrise developments, ranging from 10 to 19 storeys, which were well above the downtown's three-storey tradition.

At the time, no Official Plan policy or zoning bylaw standards regulated height within the waterfront areas of what's now the Urban Growth Centre.

A height review study in 1989 helped establish height controls and building standards for development in this area, restricting building height to 30 metres or 45 m. In 2013, city council approved the tall buildings Official Plan policy which did not increase building height in the City Centre, but rather recommended that proposals for increased building height are to be reviewed on their individual merits.

bbruton@postmedia.com

 

 



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