A shopping area in Nanaimo’s north end could become home to two residential condo buildings.
The City of Nanaimo has received a development application calling for the construction of two five-storey condo buildings at 6540 Metral Dr., beside Cobs Bread bakery.
According to plans submitted to the city by De Hoog Kierulf Architects on behalf of Windley Contracting, one condo building would be 6,367 square metres and would have 41 one-bedroom units and 32 two-bedroom units. The second building would be 3,043 square metres and would feature 17 one-bedroom units and 15 two-bedroom units. Both buildings require height variances. A 105-square-metre commercial space is also planned for one of the buildings and each building will have underground parking.
The two buildings would be constructed in between Cobs and Central Island Veterinary clinic. Entrance into the site would be through two existing access points along Metral Drive.
Coun. Jerry Hong, who is on the city’s design advisory panel, said the project has the potential to be precedent-setting for Nanaimo, should it go proceed to the building stage and become successful.
“It is one of the first projects that is specifically putting residential in a commercial setting,” Hong said. “Staff have been working hard over the years to get developers to put in projects into these core areas. We get a bunch of developments on the outskirts but this is actually right in the core so I think this is a game changer for people and if this takes off and sells well, then it proves well that there are people willing to live in commercial centres.”
Hong said for years, Nanaimo has relied on the timeless model of building single-family homes around shopping centres and plazas for years. He said his committee and the city are looking for ways to reduce a reliance on cars by encouraging more development closer to existing urban nodes, such as Woodgrove Centre and Nanaimo North Town Centre.
“Having these buildings within our urban centres, we are hoping that it can reduce the drive to have less cars. Those buildings and those developments … they’re taking away parking spaces. This is what we’re hoping to see. We don’t want to see fields of concrete. We want more residential on that parking space,” Hong said. “It is very important to have this [project] because it showcases that you can do it. You can put residential in a commercial [area].”
One of the concerns Hong does have is that there is no crosswalk nearby, explaining that the closest one is at Aulds Road and Metral Drive. He said a crosswalk or even a traffic light might be needed for the intersection separating the ICBC and Home Depot plazas.