Main Street East development proposal turning heads

An artist’s rendering of the Losani Homes project proposed for the DeVries lands where Cole’s Florist stands now. It depicts six storeys, seven are in the application request.

By Mike Williscraft

While those involved in the proposed Losani Homes development slated for the current Cole’s Florist lands believe their project fits the local streetscape, many neighbours in the area would beg to differ.

The development requires approvals of both the Town’s Official Plan and zoning bylaws.

The mixed use building is projected to stand 6-7 storeysin height with ground-floor commercial and residential units above.

“The two applications at the Grout Nelles home (the adjacent property at Nelles Road) and Cole’s store introduce a city-like setting that has nothing to do with the rest of Grimsby’s Main Street East,” said Ruxandra Bucataru, co-chair of citizens’ group Save Main Street.

“Their density, mass and height dwarf everything around and instead of contributing to our unique sense of place, they look completely out of it. This is the result of years of neglect to protect the heritage character of our town. With the direction voted by Council in December for a Main Street East Secondary Plan, this trend will only be accelerated.”

However, the Losani report submitted to Town of Grimsby in support of the project, the development is purported to be in keeping with the existing themes.

“The overall vision for the redevelopment of the subject lands is to ensure a high quality, contemporary mixed-use development which will contribute positively to the Main Street East streetscape,” the report reads.

“The proposed development has been thoughtfully designed to be compatible with surrounding development and respect the existing and emerging and built-form and character of Main Street East.”

Details for the project include:

• One mixed use building, ranging in height from six to seven storeys, oriented towards Main Street East.
• Flexible commercial space on the ground floor of the existing building.
• 215 residential dwelling units, comprised of one- and two- bedroom units.
• Vehicular access from Wentworth Drive north of the proposed building. The existing two accesses from Main Street East will be closed.
• Access to the underground parking garage, garbage, loading, drop-off areas oriented to the rear of the building.
• A total of 254 parking spaces, comprised of 225 underground and 29 surface parking space.
• Outdoor amenity area located to the rear of the building at the northwest corner of the site.
• Indoor and rooftop amenity space on the first and seventh floor, comprising a total area of 975 square metres (10,504 square ft)
• A landscaped courtyard area between the building and Main St. E.
• A network of sidewalk and walkway connections providing pedestrian access through the site and to the municipal sidewalk network.

For Bucataru, the scope of the proposal is nowhere near what should be permitted.

“Grimsby has evolved and changed over time, but much of its original flavour is still present on Main Street East,” said Bucataru, adding she realizes development is needed and will continue to happen, but that proper planning principles are what need to adhered to.

“Beautiful homes, many heritage, larger spaces, mature trees and ample views of the escarpment, create an unique sense of place cherished by residents and tourists. These are assets that make Grimsby attractive and should not be obliterated by new development.”

According to the report, attention to enhancing the streetscape where possible by maximizing surface lands has been taken into consideration.

“The building is oriented towards Main Street East with a generous courtyard at the front of the building. Parking is proposed as underground and surface parking spaces. Implementation of the proposed development requires approval of Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments.”

Losani’s submitted traffic analysis suggests:

• Under existing conditions, the study intersections are operating at acceptable levels of service and within capacity;
• The site is estimated to generate approximately 73 new trips in the AM peak hour and approximately 93 new trips in the PM peak hour;
• Under the Town’s Zoning By-law, a total of 327 parking spaces (1.5 spaces per unit) is required to support the proposed development program. The site statistics indicate a vehicle parking supply of 252 spaces (1.16 spaces/unit), and;
• The site design does not suggest any safety concerns for the circulation of vehicles and is expected to operate acceptably for a private development.

For Bucataru, she finds the strategy of developers and pro-development members of council interesting, to say the least.

“Developers never argued against the Secondary Plan, yet they went to great lengths to block the Heritage Conservation District, which would have guided these developments to be compatible with the context of the area,” said Bucataru.

Development can happen in harmony with the precious heritage character of the town and the Heritage Act offers a more balanced framework for cooperation between the Town and developers. In the light of the unfortunate events that led to the termination of the Heritage Conservation District Study, this is unlikely to happen in Grimsby.”

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