Seylynn Village to go to hearing

THE District of North Vancouver agreed Monday to send a large development at Seylynn Village to a public hearing.

Council is weighing a proposal calling for five buildings on the 5.7-acre site at the east side of Mountain Highway and the north side of Fern Street. The development includes three highrises of 24, 28, and 32 storeys.

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The tallest building is projected to be just shy of 100 metres, which was a concern for Coun. Lisa Muri.

"I do have some concerns about the shadowing, and I would like to see a visual on how the shadows drop on the front of the rental building," she said.

The project would create 790 living units, including 70 affordable rental apartments.

The affordable housing units are expected to cost approximately $1,950 per month for a three bedroom apartment or $1,130 each month for a one-bedroom.

"It's what we're calling affordable housing but it's definitely not low-income housing," said Coun. Roger Bassam.

The buildings come with a floor space ratio of 3.2. FSR calculates the total floor space of a building relative to the lot size.

Council approved a high-density project for the site in 2009, but personal issues sidelined the developer and the land was sold to Seylynn North Shore Properties in 2011.

The new proposal is a leaner, taller version of the original design, which called for nine buildings including two 25-storey towers.

The original project was designed for 100 fewer living units. Because of the increase in density, the district should treat the proposal as a wholly new project, according to council watcher Lyle Craver.

"The three towers represent 84 storeys of development compared to the 50 that were previously approved. I don't call this a minor revision," he said.

The project also includes approximately 1,000 square metres of commercial space. The original proposal included more than 4,000 square metres of commercial space. According to district staff, the shift is due to existing commercial space in the adjacent area, designated the Lower Lynn Town Centre in the district's official community plan.

The municipality has been weighing development options on the site since 2002.

"This has been a long and arduous road, travelling to the point where we are again tonight," said Coun. Alan Nixon.

Nixon praised the developer's decision to offer unbundled parking, meaning renters would not be obligated to purchase a parking space.

"The one thing that disappoints me a little bit about this development is that we are still requiring 1.1 parking spaces per unit," he said.

The development includes 938 parking spots.

The district normally mandates 1.9 parking spots for each new unit.

"I think 1.1 is very aggressive," countered Coun. Mike Little. "People are still very car dependent, and you can't add parking spaces after the fact."

Mayor Richard Walton suggested the development could be similar to Yaletown, allowing residents to ditch their cars.

"One car to no car is the future for this community," he said.

The project also includes a four-lane extension to Keith Road across the north side of the property to connect with the Fern Street interchange as well as the narrowing of Fern Street.

The Keith Road extension would have to be completed before any units could be sold in the building on the southeast corner of the site.

Construction on the road would likely begin in 2015, according to David Stuart, the district's chief administrative officer.

The public hearing on the development is tentatively set for Nov. 6.

Many councillors said they were looking forward to more community involvement.

"We have 10 people speaking out about (William Griffin) recreation centre," Muri noted. "And we have 938 units and two speakers - and one is representing the developer."

Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn was absent from the meeting.

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