The city is looking over designs for an apartment building project near Nanaimo North Town Centre that has grown somewhat over the past year and a half.
Nanaimo city council re-zoned 4961 Songbird Pl. for development in the fall of 2019, when the proposal on the table was for a four-storey, 76-unit apartment building. The city has now received a development application from the same owner for a five-storey, 108-unit apartment building on the property.
Architect Daryoush Firouzli presented plans to the city’s design advisory panel last week.
“Around 10 years ago we designed and built a 63-unit apartment building across the pond,” he noted in his application. “The project build completed when the market was very slow but the project did very well, which proved the location of the project is promising and well-located to all amenities in the area.”
The 108 units will be configured as 68 one-bedroom apartments, 32 two-bedroom apartments and eight three-bedroom apartments. The proposed building is L-shaped with one section facing Rutherford Road and the other section facing a wetland area on the eastern portion of the property. Parking will be 80 per cent underground with the remainder surface parking.
The applicant is asking for three variances: a height variance from 18m to 18.4m, a front-yard setback variance from 3.5m to 2.5m, and a parking variance from a maximum of 40 per cent small-car spaces to 41 per cent.
The design panel expressed support for the height and setback variances. The panel recommended finding ways to better distinguish and frame the main entrance, considering darker-coloured railings or use of frosted glass on patios, and moving the garbage area to the underground parking garage.
Jeremy Holm, the city’s director of development approvals, told the News Bulletin it’s not out of the ordinary for project plans to change between the re-zoning and development permit stage.
“At the re-zoning stage, it’s more conceptual…” he said. “Basically through re-zoning, we’re looking at the land-use proposal more than anything and looking at how that proposal aligns with the policy objectives, largely in the official community plan.”
He said as time passes between re-zoning and permitting, market conditions sometimes change and developers respond to those changes.
“There’s definitely a need for more housing units and a mix of housing units, too, so this is providing that,” Holm said.
The development permit application will come before Nanaimo city council at a later date.