A plaza close to Nanaimo’s Departure Bay ferry terminal could be getting a fresh new look.
The City of Nanaimo’s design advisory panel, at a meeting Thursday, May 12, recommended that the Sealand Market project at 1840 Stewart Ave. proceed to the next phase of the development permit process.
The applicant Jason Guild, part of the project management team with Snuneymuxw First Nation’s Petroglyph Development Group, is proposing exterior alterations to the three existing buildings on the property. The main building would be renovated and reconfigured with 11 units, including Beefeaters Chophouse and Grill restaurant and a Coast Salish Canna cannabis retail store, while the other two buildings – Miller’s Pub and the Marine Store at Stone’s Boatyard – would also be renovated and would retain their current uses.
The main building would receive a new timber-frame entrance way with Coast Salish cultural elements. Two totem poles are shown in concept drawings.
“It has become quite dilapidated, the main building, and I think what [the architect’s] done, the overall design, has really captured what Snuneymuxw is looking for,” Guild said.
Architect Glenn Hill of DHK Architects said the property, situated close to B.C. Ferries, Saysutshun and other waterfront land, has some “unique adjacencies” which present opportunities.
“We wanted to exploit what’s there and give it a fresh lease on life,” he said.
Hill said the intention was to work with the existing structures and use materials and colours “indicative of waterfront, semi-industrial, commercial and the boatyard style” appropriate to the property.
The new retail spaces would be in an array of sizes, he said, “the ambition being coffee shops, ice cream shops, things that would promote the culture of the seawall walk and hopefully a significant retail or restaurant component with exterior decks and patios that would take full advantage of being at the entryway to Newcastle Channel.”
The design panel recommended support for the only proposed variance, a setback from the ocean for canopies and columns at the rear of the main building. The design panel made four recommendations, most notably that the applicant try to add more planting to the parking lot and other areas, expand the plaza in front of the main building, and improve pedestrian connections with some thought to stairs from Stewart Avenue.
“It’s really great to see an existing building restored and repurposed in a way that hopefully better serves the needs of the present and has some longevity to it,” said Coun. Tyler Brown, city council’s representative on the design panel.