A condominium development for adults 55-plus could be coming to Westwood Lake.
White Lion Developments is proposing to build two three-storey condo buildings – resulting in 57 two-bedroom units – at 2367 Arbot Rd. and has submitted a rezoning application to the City of Nanaimo.
The 11,533 square-metre property is home to the Piccadilly Bistro and the Westwood Tennis Club, which has one of the only dome-covered tennis courts on Vancouver Island. It is also beside the Bethlehem Centre.
Robyn White, president of White Lion Developments, explained that the condominiums will be for people aged 55-plus only. He said the project includes the construction of a publicly accessible pathway to the trail that goes around Westwood Lake as well as improving the city-owned portion of the trail that runs behind the property.
“There has been a lot of thought that has gone into this project and we respect those who use the public walkway. We will be upgrading the walkway path and it will be a significant contribution to the city as there are sections of the trail, like wooden bridges, that could use some improvements,” he said.
Cheryl Miller, who has co-owned the club and land for more than 20 years, said she’s been trying to sell the property periodically over the last decade but has been unsuccessful.
“I tried to sell it as tennis club to preserve it as a tennis club, but it hasn’t worked out,” she said.
Parking at the condo development would be mostly underground with the exception of 10 stalls assigned for disability parking and guests, according to White, who said the buildings will be set back farther from the trail around the lake than the existing building on the property.
When it comes to height and density, White said that with the type of zoning being requested, there could have been far more units than 57. He also said the height of the buildings is no taller than the existing domed tennis court on the property and that none of the windows will face the neighbouring Bethlehem Centre.
“We made sure there were no windows looking down on their property and we’re keeping the roofline low so people there aren’t looking at a big building,” White said.
Miller said the Piccadilly Bistro and the tennis club would leave the property should the project receive the necessary permits and approvals. She said bistro employees and club members and employees are well aware of the situation.
“We’ve told everybody everything; there is no hiding anything,” she said.
The tennis club could relocate elsewhere if there is enough interest from other individuals, according to Miller. She said she’s ready to retire after more than two decades of ownership.
“I really enjoyed it. I met a lot of wonderful people and I love the members,” she said.
Miller and White also said they’re aware of the public interest in the property and have already received lots of comments following an open house they held earlier this year. Miller said the project has been in the works and has gone through all the necessary steps the city requires up to this point. She said the neighbourhood would likely change as a result of the project, but that their proposal fits within the city’s own community plan.
“It is not that we’ve just put this out there without doing our homework,” she said. “We’ve covered everything the city has asked us to do and it does fit in with the community plan.”
Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, confirmed that a rezoning request for the Westwood Lake property has been received, but didn’t know when the application would go before council.
Both White and Miller stressed that their proposal has absolutely nothing to do with the Department of National Defence’s crackdown on recreational use of trails on range property on the Westwood Ridges. Miller said the some members of the public seem to be blending her development with the DND issues.
“We don’t interfere with any biking,” she said. “We don’t allow mountain biking on our property because this private property anyway and we don’t infringe on the lake because that is public property.”
“I don’t know why people are trying to connect what the DND is doing with this,” White added.
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