A redevelopment behind Chilliwack Mall featuring 6-storey apartment buildings had design-related permits approved at city hall this week.
The proposal is for 200 new condo apartments in three mid-rise buildings on the southernmost portion of the mall site – with 130 of them smaller units.
City council approved a development permit, and a development variance permit on Tuesday (Jan. 24), from applicant Diverse Properties with Luteyn Architects for a portion of the property at 45610 Luckakuck Way.
The design was called “fantastic” and “stunning” and “beautiful” by city councillors, and had the “wow factor” when presented to the city’s design review advisory committee to look at the form and character details.
Councillors, as well as speakers at the public information meeting, peppered the applicant with questions about parking, site access, traffic flow, addressing, as well as questions about settlement of adjacent buildings to the south.
Architect Doug Luteyn, of Luteyn Architects, who did the design for the buildings, answered questions on behalf of the project team.
One of the speakers during the information meeting spoke on behalf of Knight Road residents who were concerned their building had “settlement” issues after the demolition of part of the mall.
Colin Archie, who appeared by Zoom, said he was advocating for people living at 45555 Knight Road, which is listed as owned by the Kekinow Native Housing Society.
He said they were concerned about the structural integrity of their nearby buildings, “so much so” that they planned to hire a structural engineer and geotechnical engineer to conduct an assessment to make sure the structures were still safe to live in. Archie asked if there would be “further remediation” of the project in relation to these neighbouring buildings, if their assessments indicate there had been disturbances “other than natural.”
Luteyn said they had hired a geotech, and pointed out there was a road and a row of parking before the building starts, and that the excavation was “only half a storey in” and that construction had not started yet.
Archie asked if there would be support for them forthcoming from the City of Chilliwack, or consultants, if it was established that there was settlement in the land.
Coun. Chris Kloot asked if the settlement happened after the demolition.
Archie said it happened “recently.”
Speaker Harvey Mellard of Knight Road said after the demolition, their four-storey condo building to the east had similar bugs, shifts, crack, and water leaks. Could be “purely coincidental,” he said, although they don’t know.
Director of development David Blain said “he made a note of the issue” and he pledged to bring the settlement issue question up with the city building department.
“It’s not something we want to get in the middle of,” Blain said, adding they’d be taking a look at it as the permitting authority, and maybe taking “additional steps” at the building permit stage.
Lum said he was glad staff were going to do their “due diligence” to make sure conversations were happening “up front” and ensure there was a geotech baseline “before the shovels” go in the ground.
Coun. Jeff Shields supported the variances, and agreed it was better if the city was being “proactive.”
Coun. Bud Mercer, vice-chair of the design review committee talked about the traffic getting busier on Luckakuck Way already, as council has heard from the public.
“I hope the traffic flow can be improved in discussions between developer and staff and the mall management,” Mercer said. “I want to close my comments to say this development when it was presented to design review committee had the wow factor. It was stunning, and the comments from the design review committee were few and far between except to say congratulations and well done. And this will be a great addition to the skyline coming off the highway – even at six floors.”
Kloot, who is chair of the design review committee had earlier asked about traffic flow and if Knight Road would be the main access road to the large parkade, and was told 75 per cent would come that way.
He also asked if getting a Knight Road address was a possibility since Luckakuck Way was so busy and going to get busier.
“I hope the developer will explore the opportunity to have civic addresses that reflect Knight Road,” for the benefit of visitors, or Google maps he said later.
“I have full confidence in the developer given their track record of building beautiful homes for residents,” Kloot continued. “With the 130 small units included in this development, I can’t think of a better spot to tackle affordability in our community. These are beautiful buildings that will complement that whole area, and I look forward to see them starting work sooner rather than later on them.”
The southern portion of the mall site eyed for the apartment buildings was successfully rezoned in 2019 to the R6 mid rise apartment zone, according to city staff reports. “On the heels of the rezoning, an application for subdivision was submitted and is currently under review which, when complete, will result in the separation of the proposed apartment development from the existing commercial area on the property.”
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