Mahogany tower back before council

The Mahogany at Mill Lake highrise was again the target of criticism from neighbours at a public meeting on Monday evening

The Mahogany at Mill Lake highrise was again the target of criticism from neighbours at a public meeting on Monday evening, as developer Diane Delves seeks city approval of commercial use on the first-three floors of the 26-storey tower.

Her company, Quantum Properties, applied for a rezoning for the first three floors of the building at 2180 Gladwin Rd., overlooking Mill Lake.

The original tower proposal was controversial at council, as neighbours complained it was out of place in a single family residential neighbourhood. The plan for the tower and second, four-storey low-rise building was approved, by a 5-4 margin, in March 2011.

Many of the same opponents of the plan were back at council to speak against the new rezoning request.

Quantum is asking for the north 97 metres of the property to be rezoned. The plan is for a cafe, medical and other offices, and retail businesses. It excludes drive-thrus, convenience stores or thrift stores.

The recurring arguments against the plan were that the businesses would cause an increase in traffic, pressure finding parking in the area, and that the tower does not fit the character of the area.

“‘I’ve got two little girls who want to ride their bikes on that street,” neighbour Darwin Handford told council.

There were also supporters. Aird Flavelle, a regular council attendee and a candidate in the last election, called the plan an “awesome use of modern development techniques.”

Architect Gord Klassen noted the developer had been looking for an opportunity to develop commercial space near the hospital, and finding no property available, sought to re-developed the tower.

He also noted that the plan in its present form will require only 10 additional parking spaces, compared to the original plan to have the entire site developed for residential units.

After the meeting, developer Diane Delves said commercial is a sensible use for the first three floors of the tower, in part because the residential buyers want higher suites with views.

Delves said she would not allow the commercial businesses to create gridlock in the neighbourhood. Quantum’s CityScape professional office building, located near The Keg at 2190 West Railway St., is about 25 per cent larger than what she is proposing at Mahogany, and that neighbourhood has not been inundated with traffic, she said.

“I’m very concerned that this building is an asset to the people who live there.”

May 28 is the earliest date council can deal with the rezoning, and Delves said the end of summer is the earliest start time for the project.