The redevelopment plan for 1400 Wingrove St. is for a three-storey mixed-use building with a restaurant, other commercial space and 12 rental units. IAN NIAMATH image

Development permit issued for Amrikko’s property at Departure Bay

Nanaimo city council votes 7-1 in favour of issuing a development permit for 1400 Wingrove St.

A key property to the Departure Bay neighbourhood has received council’s permission to go ahead with a rebuild.

Nanaimo city council, at its meeting Monday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, voted 7-1 in favour of issuing a development permit for 1400 Wingrove St., the Amrikko’s site along Departure Bay Road.

The restaurant closed and never reopened after a fire in 2013.

Redevelopment plans have changed since then and the permit approved this week is for a three-storey, mixed-use building with a restaurant, other commercial space and 12 rental units.

The developer was granted six variances, most notably a reduction in required parking from 54 spaces to 13.

“This project represents a whole new rejuvenation and revitalization of the area and just for that alone, we should allow [it]…” said Ian Niamath, architect. “This project is way too important for it to be pinned on a few car spaces.”

RELATED: Architect says plans moving ahead for Departure Bay property

RELATED: Plans for Amrikko’s By the Sea rebuild now call for a three-storey building

The plan calls for on-street parking to be added, along with sidewalks, on both sides of the street on that block of Wingrove.

According to a city staff report, the development plans meet the design guidelines in the Departure Bay Neighbourhood Plan. The site has archaeological considerations and so the new building will utilize the foundations of the existing building.

The staff report points to “housing affordability features” including “micro-units” and a proposed agreement not to stratify or sell half the units for at least 10 years.

“We’re adding housing units in an area that really needs it, in a great location and adding to the life and utility of that space,” Niamath said.

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Two Departure Bay residents spoke against the permit application and one spoke in favour and councillors Diane Brennan and Bill Yoachim said they believe the neighbourhood supports the development.

“I’ve got to trust that it’s going to start right away,” Yoachim said. “And then the decision for myself is trusting that the [neighbourhood] association supports this down there and they’re going to be well aware of the parking issues and a little bit of clutter at times with cars parked. So if they’re aware of that and they’re OK with that, if the neighbourhood supports it, I support it.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe said he’s prepared to “hope for the best with parking” because he wants to see the project move forward and thinks it will be good for the area.

Coun. Bill Bestwick eventually voted in favour of issuing the development permit, but said at the start of the debate he was undecided and had concerns.

“Maybe the density is too high. Maybe. We’re being asked for six variances. We’re being asked to reduce the parking by 41 spaces. It’s not a nominal amount. So there needs to be some balance there…” he said. “We’re being asked to make all the compromises, frankly.”

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong was the only one who ended up voting against the project, saying that with the coming extension to the waterfront walkway, parking demands will increase “exponentially” and suggested there isn’t adequate parking in the area as it is.

Niamath did not offer a timeline for construction, saying only that he’s excited to get started.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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