Lots of love for Casablanca plan, but parking remains key concern

An artist's rendition of the proposed Casablanca Hotel rebuild.

By Mike Williscraft

In real estate, the mantra is location, location, location, but Monday night – with regard to the redevelopment of Casablanca Winery Inn – it was parking, parking, parking.

The high-profile project and the developer, The Rosseau Group, was back before town council as part of another public meeting on Monday night. Major revisions have been made to the plans again.

Initially, in 2017 the proposal maintained the existing Casablanca Winery and Inn and developed the eastern portion of the site for a 17-storey tower and 14-storey tower atop a 5-storey podium; for a total height of a 22-storey and 19-storey towers.

The revised 2019 proposal considered a comprehensive, phased redevelopment of the site for a 19-storey building and a 12-storey building.

The interior is proposed to include 420 condo units, 72 hotel rooms, 1,800 sq m of retail space, 1,500 sq m outdoor amenity space and 4,200 sq m amenity area.

The consensus among council and the handful of public who were on the Zoom meeting was there are a lot of great things about the overall design and concept, but….parking.

One delegate, who said he also spoke for two condo associations in addition to being a neighbouring resident, requested the developer far exceed the site’s own parking requirement in an effort to fix the serious parking shortfall problem in the Winston Road area.

“Personally, I support it. I love it,” said Liam Killeen, noting he lives right across the street.

“I was happy to see the number has risen…I’m concerned that it is still not enough. As it stands right now, in our corporation, we are at 85 shared visitor parking spaces for 144 residences, 19 businesses and that is in addition to the 45 public parking spots available on Winston right now.”

“We’re only at about 50 per cent occupancy for our businesses and parking has already been stretched. This is off-season as well, so this doesn’t deal with beach season and the improvements being made to the lake area. This doesn’t deal with more retail, the Odyssey building going in, etc. I would love to formally see if it is even possible to add another layer of parking to what you already have existing.”

That theme of parking issues in the area popped up at several points after project consultant, Martin Quarcoopome, noted the current proposal bumps up parking to 20 more than Town bylaws require at 909 spaces, with those 20 created for public access.

With that, though, many questions still arose regarding parking.

Resident Adam Mottershead made another delegation noting some discrepancies in the documentation as to what was included in the square footage calculation for parking requirements. His questions were to be answered at a subsequent meeting.

Quarcoopome said the developers have “done our best to provide more than required,” and that a fourth level of underground parking would be cost prohibitive.

From council’s perspective, many were just as excited about the proposal as the developers.

“This is a spectacular project and I’m thrilled the hotel coming back,” said Coun. Reg Freake, but he noted he also has concerns on the parking front.

“I would like to encourage you to look at the parking again.”

And while one resident who questioned if the added strain on local roads was manageable was told current infrastructure fits all requirements, Freake noted the current problems will continue.

“I know we are going to have a traffic problem there,” said Freake, suggesting the only solution may be to add more parking and reducing the overall units.

Other comments from the public, while roundly lauding the proposal, noted items such as the project was just too population dense and another noted the developer should plan appropriate spacing within the units.

Anna Jureczek, who noted she was of Polish dissent and moved to town because of her history with Place Polonaise growing up, said her experience with condos showed 24-inch appliances are “ornamental” due to lack of functionality and she hoped appropriate space was allotted for layouts for full-size appliances.

“Discussing these aspects before these plans are finalized will definitely spare some disappointment once a family moves in,” said Jureczek.

The list of amenities in the proposed facility is lengthy and a key part of what has many looking forward to it.

Among the features are:

• Entertainment facilities;

• Day care facilities;

• Outdoor park;

• Outdoor cafes;

•Office and retail space;

• Townhouses and apartments, and;

• Indoor pool.

The next step for the proposal will be a site plan approval pre-application meeting scheduled for March 18.

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