A proposed development at 77 Chapel Street (de Hoog & Kierulf Architects)

Proposed highrise in downtown Nanaimo moves to rezoning process

Height increase to 78.5 metres will be requested at 77 Chapel St.

A proposed condominium is one step closer to becoming a part of Nanaimo’s skyline.

A 24-storey tower at 77 Chapel St. in downtown Nanaimo has received support at the committee level and a rezoning application will go before city council.

Wertman Development Corporation’s Marcielo building, designed by de Hoog & Kierulf Architects, would be constructed on a five-storey podium and come complete with 109 residential units. There would also be ground-floor commercial units, office space, five townhouse units, a two-floor athletic club, 167 underground parking stalls and a public plaza with artwork and trees located where Skinner and Chapel streets meet.

As part of the proposal, Wertman Development Corp. has submitted a rezoning application, requesting an increase to the maximum building height from 19.8 metres to 78.5 metres as well as a slight increase in floor area ratio.

Coun. Diane Brennan told the News Bulletin the city’s community planning and development committee recommended Tuesday evening that the rezoning application go before council. Brennan, who chairs the committee, said members described the building’s design as “elegant” and were happy the proposal didn’t just include towers, but other amenities, such as the plaza and athletic club.

“We’ve known and we’ve had reports that tell us that we need about another 5,000 doors downtown to really make a difference in the vibrancy and liveability of our downtown area,” Brennan said. “So, this building would be a really good addition.”

The committee did debate about the appropriate height for the building, said Brennan.

“The question doesn’t become, will you put a high-rise here? It is what is the height you’re going to allow,” she said. “There was a little bit of a difference of opinion about how high, but in the end the committee’s recommendation was to proceed.”

One question from committee members was whether development could include a walkway linking Chapel and Skinner streets, according to Brennan, who said they were told by the architects that it wouldn’t be feasible given the difference in elevation between the two streets.

“They said it would be very expensive to do and weren’t sure it would be the best use because you’d have to have steps going through,” she said. “So the committee acknowledged that the architect’s opinion was probably the right one.”

Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, said following the support from the committee, staff will be putting together a report on the property and eventually bringing forward a rezoning amendment bylaw for council’s approval, adding that a date has not been determined at this time.

“At that time we would introduce a zoning amendment bylaw and if it was supported by council, we would proceed to public hearing,” he said.

Lindsay said should the rezoning application be successful, the development would then head to the city’s design advisory panel, which would examine the form and character of the building.


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