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Panel supports design of proposed 197-unit apartment complex in downtown Nanaimo

Design advisory panel supports height variance on six- and seven-storey buildings in Old City
A 197-unit apartment complex is proposed for the corners of Wallace, Wentworth and Richards streets in the Old City Quarter. (Omicron Development, Design and Construction image)

A City of Nanaimo panel had a look at designs for 197 apartments in the Old City Quarter and is supportive of the development application.

The applicant Omicron, on behalf of property owner Telus Communications, is looking to build six- and seven-storey apartment buildings on a parcel of land bordered by Wallace, Wentworth and Richards streets.

The city’s design advisory panel reviewed the application last week and expressed support, including support for requested height variances.

The applicant is proposing one 146-unit building and one 51-unit building, with both consisting of a range of studio apartments and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites.

“Telus really wants to reutilize, reanimate, revitalize this area of downtown’s Old City and in doing so, provide a response and address some of the need with long-tenure rental homes,” said Pablo Yuste, Omicron architect.

The 197 units are anticipated to provide dwellings for 400-500 people. The buildings would be separated by a private courtyard, though there would be a public plaza near the intersection of Wallace and Wentworth streets.

“The buildings are striking in design with projecting lighter shade volumes at the buildings’ bases and darker recessed façades on the upper floors,” noted a city staff report on the design. “The recesses will also break up the horizontal massing of the buildings at intervals.”

The buildings will share an underground parking level accessible from Richards Street. The apartments will range from 425-1,200 square feet plus patios or balconies, and the proposed density is below the maximum permitted by current zoning.

READ ALSO: City of Nanaimo’s population reaches 100,000

The project includes one commercial retail unit, and Coun. Tyler Brown, who sits on the design advisory panel, asked if more commercial space had been considered.

“We did look at it, but I think it’s not well-supported to increase the amount of commercial frontage there,” said Yuste, and Omicron assistant development manager Jordan Royer said the expectation is that the building’s residents will support existing businesses in the Old City Quarter.

Maximum building height allowed by zoning is 14 metres and the applicant is asking for variances for both buildings, one which is proposed to be 17m and the other 19m.

The applicant will now be asked to consider the design panel’s feedback before the development permit application goes before Nanaimo city council.

READ ALSO: Two five-storey residential buildings approved for Haliburton Street

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