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Development permit issued for 133 seniors’ housing units in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter

Redevelopment of old Malaspina Gardens property moving ahead after previous proposal denied
An artist’s rendering of a seniors’ congregate housing development at 388 Machleary St. (Molnar Group/IBI Group Architects image)

Two years after a controversial housing project was denied in the Old City Quarter, a different kind of housing project has been approved for the property.

City council, at a meeting Monday, Aug. 30, voted unanimously to issue a development permit for a 133-unit seniors’ congregate housing development at 388 Machleary St., bordering Kennedy and Franklyn streets. In the fall of 2019, council voted against an official community plan amendment application for 175 housing units there.

The property, formerly Malaspina Gardens seniors’ care facility – built as a hospital and later repurposed as a college – was already zoned for seniors’ housing, so the current application came with no re-zoning or public hearing requirements.

“At the end of the day, we’re here to build, we’ve been building Nanaimo and this will be an amazing addition to the community,” said Greg Persanyi, vice-president of development with Molnar Group. “It won’t be multi-family with everyone able to live here, but adults and seniors will be, and we’re just looking forward to getting this built.”

The complex will be E-shaped with two five-storey wings of residences and a central three-storey amenity pavilion. Two levels of underground parking will provide 111 parking spaces, nearly triple the 40 spaces required.

The development will include a dining hall large enough to accommodate all residents, and the complex will also feature a fitness centre and access to health and wellness services and housekeeping. The grounds would include a garden with concrete paths, a dining terrace, bocce court and putting green.

Both Mayor Leonard Krog and Coun. Jim Turley spoke about being born at the old hospital and perhaps ending up at the same property again in their golden years.

“I was born on that site and now with this development being a seniors site, I may die on that site,” Turley quipped.

Coun. Ian Thorpe noted that although he voted against the OCP amendment application in the previous proposal, he was supportive this time.

“It was a little bit controversial for the neighbourhood but I think what’s in front of us now will serve our community very well,” he said.

READ ALSO: Council won’t amend official community plan for 388 Machleary development

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An artist’s rendering of a seniors’ congregate housing development at 388 Machleary St. (Molnar Group/IBI Group Architects image)