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Downtown Abbotsford mixed-use development set for public hearing

Montrose proposal called a ‘game-changer’ by Coun. Ross Siemens

A proposed mixed-use development in Abbotsford’s historic downtown that drew rave reviews from council is headed to a public hearing on Monday.

The proponent hopes to build a five-storey commercial/residential building sandwiched between Pauline Street and Montrose Avenue, just south of South Fraser Way. The proposal would create commercial and live/work units on the first floor, fronting both roads. Four storeys of apartments would rise above them, and parking would be both underground and at ground level below the apartments and between the road-fronting units.

The project would create 108 residential units, four live/work units and 9,310 square feet of commercial.

Coun. Ross Siemens was pleased with the project, calling it a “game-changer” for the area and saying it “encapsulates the vision we have for the downtown.”

“Being part of the business association 30 years ago, this was our vision that we would have projects like this, so I think a lot of us have been waiting an awful long time to see what’s happening down there,” he said.

The proposal also includes six lock-off suites, which were described by staff as “units within units” that can either be rented as a bachelor-style unit by an owner, or incorporated into an adjacent home.

To enable that style, the city has been asked to lower minimum-size requirements currently in place under the zoning bylaw. The applicant is also asking the city for a variance to enable a building larger than four storeys. Staff, in a report to council, said they don’t object to such plans, as they conform to the official community plan.

Coun. Sandy Blue said the city needed to work with developers in order to spur building.

“If they’re not going to make money at four storeys and they begin to do that at five or six or whatever the requirement is, we need to be cognizant of that or we’re going to send the development away that we would prefer to see here,” Blue said.

Council raised no objection at its meeting and voted to send the project to a public hearing. Mayor Henry Braun excused himself from the discussion and vote because a nephew is involved in the submission.

The public hearing will take place Monday at 7 p.m.