DESIGN ADVISORY PANEL: THURS. MAY 27TH 5:00 PM
PORT PLACE MALL REDEVELOPMENT
CITY HALL BOARD ROOM
THURS. MAY 27TH 5:00 PM
The revised plans of First Capital Realty’s Port Place Mall Development Permit Application (D000614) are on the agenda of the Design Advisory Panel which meets at the City Hall Board Room. Thursday May 27th at 5:00 pm. This meeting, as are all City Committee and Commission meetings is open to the public.
Plan to attend and see the revised plans!
I’ve already seen the revised plans, and some concessions to previous design panel recommendations have been made. Sad to say there is still an awful lot of surface parking, and there is still a tower. As I understand it, the tower has been moved towards the boat basin and they have redesigned the base of the tower to fit with the street scape they are creating. The tower is still extremely ugly. It is profoundly ugly. Perhaps as ugly as that Pacifica tower. And it looks like we are going to get a solid wall of towers along our water front whether we like it or not. None of those towers are a credit to our planning department. Again I ask, why is it we have the most incredible harbour on the west coast junked up with the tackiest construction in all of North America? Why are we getting all the crap, no other city would accept?
Dan, I’ve sent the notice of the Design Advisory Panel meeting on Thursday to the 3 nearby neighbourhood residents’ associations (Nanaimo Old City Association, Nob Hill Residents Association, South End Community Association) encouraging them to let their members know of this meeting and urge them to attend. I hope to see you there too.
Mayor Ruttan and Council don’t seem to realize how much the city centre and south end neighbourhoods care about this site! Let’s let them know.
I wish I had more time to do a detailed analysis of this proposal. I have only a few first impressions that allow me to predict in a very general way how this project will perform over time:
The retail component is not likely to preform any better then the retail that has been there up to now. The new road might be able to attract some “lifestyle” oriented retail, but this is, essentially, strip mall development. The possibility of an increase in retail revenue is only slight; if it is improved at all.
The residential component in phase one seems to be directed towards the lower side of the market. Because I haven’t seen floor plans for these units, I don’t know if the builder is aiming for the middle income or low income market. These units, overlooking a street, with a view of the top half of the building across the road, would only appeal to the lowest end of either market. Considering that along Front Street this site has a great view of the boat basin, and Cameron Island the choice to develop residential above the strip mall is an odd one.
Usually, what we would like to see in phased development is the prospect of success in the preceding stages propelling (compelling) the development of subsequent stages. Phase one would springboard the construction of phase two. In this case, phase one is likely to hinder rather then help the development of phase two. The fact that phase two is so god-awful-ugly, this might be considered a blessing, except this would still leave the site underdeveloped with its potential untapped.
In my estimation, based on a brief preliminary application of my models, a phased approach would work best by focusing on residential development along Front Street. Three or four story high strata residential, with large terraces overlooking the ocean would appeal to the highest end of the middle and high income market. Phase two would be similar development on top of parking and behind this first phase. If a tower is a must, then put the tower behind this second set of terraced units. Try to build in such a way as to respect the character and quality of the site (don’t build a tower that looks like the worst example of 1980 apartment blocks).
The commercial development at the base of the residential could also be phased and developed according to demand.
And each subsequent phase is built above the parking established in the previous phases. Demand for parking is likely to decrease over the period this project is to be built. It might be possible to develop future phases without a parking component.
A “stepped back” approach from Front Street would make the sale of residential units easier and would increase the possibility of a larger residential component on that site. It would also improve prospects for the retail on that site, because it would better attract and direct pedestrian traffic up from the boat basin. It would also be slightly easier to phase, in that there would be less construction on top of existing buildings.
This is the best I can do for now. I’m helping out a friend tonight so I won’t be able to make the meeting. Good Luck,