Port Place Mall plans: extensive revisions

First Capital Realty Inc’s revised redevelopment plans for Port Place Mall were presented to the Design Advisory Panel on Thursday evening, along with 4 other projects: 888 Bruce (DP000653), 6461 Metral Dr (DP000655), 650 Terminal Ave (Husky Gas Station).

I was happy to see representatives from the adjoining neighbourhood associations in attendance.

Details of the development permit applications can be found on the City’s website at NanaimoMap — select the “development” option in the “themes” menu. The revised Port Place plans were not posted yet though when I looked earlier today. The rezoning application detail, also, has not been posted.

The Port Place plans have undergone considerable alteration. The smaller project — to build a stand-alone slab commercial building at 9 Nicol St ran into provincial Department of Highways complications that required that area to be reworked. The catalyst however for a much broader reworking was the requirement to ensure for the anchor tenants a certain number of parking stalls.

The reworked plans now group the residential component at the north end of the site including the tower. There is an additional longer term plan to build row houses and condos facing Piper Park.

This grouping I would say is an improvement in that it lays the groundwork for a possible eventual residential “neighbourhood” with amenities within walking distance and the housing stock likely to result in a mix of incomes. Whether any of this residential component will ever be built is another question… If a new streetcape is developed along Piper Park it could accomplish extending the street grid from Commercial down Museum Way and connected to the harbour.

The City and the proponent continue to promote the new access and egress alignment as at “street”. I continue to wonder if publicly owned streets have become sound public policy.

This is still a suburban shopping mall in our downtown core however. Once this amount of surface parking is entrenched here, we’re stuck with it for between 15 and 25 years.

Another opportunity lost I’m afraid.

Frank Murphy