Seemingly back from the dead, a six-storey project earmarked for Upper Lonsdale got new life as City of North Vancouver council voted recently to send the development to a public hearing.
Council voted 3-2 to kibosh the 44-unit project at 2601 Lonsdale Ave. in early February over height and traffic concerns but opted to reverse that decision at their March 12 meeting.
Noting developer Pezzente Holdings’ willingness to make changes to their project, Mayor Darrell Mussatto put the item back on the agenda.
While he didn’t change his mind on the project, Coun. Don Bell said he changed his mind on granting the project a public hearing.
“I do normally like the principal of giving everybody their day in court,” he said. “That day in court, for council, is a public hearing.”
The proposal is comprised of 16 strata units and 28 rentals, three of which would be rented at mid-market rates for at least three years.
The building has been vacant since a fire in February 2017. Aside from an application to turn a neighbouring two-storey duplex into a six-storey rental, the site is surrounded by apartments and townhouses that top out at three storeys.
“I don’t want to see this particular project at six storeys,” said Coun. Linda Buchanan.
Chief among community concerns are Pezzente Holdings’ plans to pay the city $2.46 million for 9,625 square feet of city-owned roadway and a swath of garden to the south. Approximately 40 per cent of the project’s total floor space of 37,076 square feet would be acquired by way of the road parcel. Pezzente Holdings would also pay $908,877 for a density bonus, boosting the project’s floor space ratio – which measures a development’s total floor space against its lot size – of 2.06.
If the project is approved, the developer would build a walkway connecting Lonsdale and Western avenues.
“I do think that we can still get to a place where it’s going to work for everyone,” Buchanan said.
Selling city-owned property would be a deal breaker, according to Coun. Pam Bookham.
While Bookham also voted to advance the project, she maintained that she is “yet to be persuaded” the development is in the community’s best interests.
If the city doesn’t sell the roadway the height will be non-negotiable, according to Coun. Rod Clark.
“If we don’t sell the lane, it’s going to be six storeys,” he predicted.
Utilizing a one-way street onto Lonsdale Avenue may alleviate some safety concerns, according to Clark. However, Clark voted to reject the project, suggesting the developer and community are “too far apart.”
Both the development’s size and its impact on traffic can be discussed at the public hearing, said Coun. Craig Keating.
Coun. Holly Back concurred. “We can make the changes then, not now,” she said.
She also suggested the developer is flexible. “He seems very willing to do what the neighbours want, or certainly meet halfway.”
The development includes 32 parking spots for residents as well as four stalls for visitors.
The public hearing is tentatively slated for April 16 at city hall.