Historic downtown development gets council go-ahead – again

Mixed-used building in historic downtown needed parking alterations due to tree

A proposed new downtown retail and apartment building got a second approval from council last week, after it revised its plans to deal with a tree on a neighbouring property.

A developer hopes to build a 21-unit apartment building, with retail space on the ground floor, at the corner of Gladys Avenue and George Ferguson Way.

Council had given the project the go-ahead in May, despite the building’s parking plans requiring the removal of a nearby tree on an adjacent property whose owner wanted to retain the tree.

The developer – Pacific Boulevard Investments – wasn’t able to get that neighbour on board, and re-drew its plans for parking. Because those plans involved creating a tighter-packed underground parking lot than automatically permitted by the city, the developer needed council’s approval a second time.

It got that approval last week, but not before Coun. Bruce Banman again raised questions about the building’s design. The Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) had written letters to the city twice – one in 2018, the other in January 2019 – expressing concern that the project doesn’t fit the historic character of the neighbourhood.

After the first letter, some alterations were made, including the addition of bricks to the building’s facade. But it wasn’t enough to convince the ADBA, and, in January, executive director Jennifer McEwan wrote: “More attention should be given to this site as it is a high visibility corner at the edge of Historic Downtown.”

RELATED: Abbotsford council signals approval of new downtown building, but ADBA says design is wrong

Last week, Coun. Bruce Banman raised the design question again.

“When I compare this to the rest of the buildings in the historic downtown, it looks too modern to me,” he said. “It just doesn’t look as if it fits into the form and character of the historic downtown, at least to my eyes.”

City staff had previously declared the design was appropriate, saying it was a “high-quality development” with a design matching its land-use designation.

In response to Banman, the city’s planners noted that the proposal sits in an area where buildings must have “historic influence,” but face fewer requirements than new developments within the four-block historic downtown core. (At the centre of those four blocks is the intersection of Essendene and Montrose avenues.)

“If this building were in that core, it would not be consistent with the guidelines,” said Darren Braun, the city’s director of development planning.

Unanimous approval was given for the project’s development permit, although it will return to council for public comment at an upcoming meeting.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Four Abbotsford police dogs to get StreetFighter vests

Police department receives $6,800 grant from two sources

Social media claims not reported: Abbotsford Police

No recent reports of attempted abductions, sex ring group and strangers attempting to enter cars

VIDEO: Fence saves driver from 50-ft plummet after crash in Abbotsford

Young man walks away uninjured after crash leaves him dangling over steep rock embankment

High death rate at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Abbotsford has the worst-performing large hospital in B.C. on key safety measure

VIDEO: Look back at the 1977 Abbotsford International Airshow

New images from the 1977 show have recently surfaced online

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla Highway

Up to 25 cm of snow is expected to fall in the region by Thursday

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Most Read