A proposed condominium tower in downtown Nanaimo has cleared another hurdle.
Nanaimo city council voted unanimously to approve the third reading of a rezoning amendment for a proposed 24-storey mixed-use building at 65 and 77 Chapel St. following a public hearing on Thursday night.
Dubbed Marcielo, the proposed highrise would be built on a 4,364-square-metre property in the city’s downtown core. It would feature 109 condo units, five townhouse units, ground-floor commercial units, office space, 167 underground parking stalls, a public plaza and a two-floor athletic club.
A rezoning amendment was required after the developers, Wertman Development Corporation, had requested increasing the floor area ratio as well as increasing the maximum building height from 19.8 metres to 78.5 metres.
Council’s decision to approve third reading means the proposed development must be reviewed by the province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure before councillors can officially adopt the rezoning amendment.
Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, said “it likely won’t be until at least October” before councillors will get to vote on final adoption.
Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay said the proposed development works within the city’s strategy to encourage highrise buildings downtown without drastically impeding the views of existing residents. He said that portion of downtown is earmarked for highrise development.
“It is an area that is destined for some highrise development, not a lot. We certainly don’t want to create a wall in front of anybody, but I think it is a good project,” he said.
Meanwhile, Coun. Ian Thorpe called Marcielo a “worthwhile project” that will help that area of downtown. Thorpe, who had previously raised concerns about the development eliminating two existing parking structures, said he’s pleased with the amount of parking the project has but has lingering concerns about the parking situation downtown overall.
“I am satisfied that this project, with its underground parking and the accommodation they have made for some road-side parking, is fair enough,” Thorpe said. “So, I am OK with it in that regard but I do think in the longer term we do have to take a look at what is happening downtown … and what our needs for parking will be.”
The Vancouver-based developers, per city policy, intend to contribute $72,200 toward park improvement and $72,200 toward the city’s affordable housing fund. They also plan to spend an additional $38,000 on public art for the property.
Coun. Jerry Hong, who was not at the meeting, said he would have liked to have seen the developers provide more money for affordable housing, adding that community contribution policies need to be changed.
“We need more money for affordable housing. That’s where that money should go,” he said.
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