A proposed six-storey, 100-unit redevelopment of the former Gorge Pointe Pub site in Esquimalt will likely need some more tweaks.
Council moved Abstract Developments’ proposal forward on March 7, but held off on sending it to a public hearing, due to more discussion being needed on the project’s massing, parking and commercial aspects.
Abstract is seeking rezoning for the site, but says its vision aligns with what the township’s Official Community Plan dictates for the area. It aims to create more greenspace on a property dominated by a parking lot, and hopes to transform a stretch beside the busy Tillicum Road into one that entices pedestrians.
During a presentation to council, an Abstract official said the location is well positioned with bike and transit options nearby. In exchange for an increased density allowance, the developer would contribute nearly $110,000 towards a safe crossing to Gorge Park, or other active transportation improvements along the Tillicum corridor.
The plan calls for two commercial spaces on the building’s first floor, with a corner plaza imagined that will support a cafe. Abstract pitches this as fulfilling a key request from neighbourhood residents – making sure there’s a gathering space at the former pub and liquor store site.
The proposal also aims to make the spot more comfortable for residents, pedestrians and cafe-goers by adding new street trees and a widened 2.2-metre sidewalk to serve as a buffer from vehicles on Tillicum Road.
The six-storey concept would neighbour two existing four-storey condo buildings on the Gorge Waterway side and single-family homes. The developer altered original plans to set back the top two floors, but not to the extent sought by the township’s advisory planning commission.
The commission also had concerns with the dedication of only half of the proposal’s ground-floor frontage for commercial space. It hoped the entire first-floor frontage would be for commercial use, but recommended council approval if the developer met in the middle at 75 per cent.
The proposed number of 89 parking spaces – with all able to support electric vehicles – doesn’t meet Esquimalt’s required 1.3 spaces per unit for multi-family developments. Staff explained they worked with Abstract to reduce the excavated area needed for the underground parkade in order to leave more room for on-site trees and natural areas.
Though vehicle parking is a concern, the development boasts 100 bike parking spaces, bus passes for every resident that opts out of a parking space and every unit getting a membership for an onsite Modo vehicle.
The building also looks to have a rooftop patio with a barbeque area and a lushly-landscaped courtyard.
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