Shovels are expected to be in the ground by spring for a new four-storey condo-retail development in Cordova Bay Plaza.
Saanich council voted 8-1 on Monday in favour of a development permit. Mayor Richard Atwell was the only council member to vote against the proposal.
Within weeks, the site’s one-storey buildings will be demolished, including the old Tru Value grocery store, which closed last year, said architect Alan Lowe. Developer Kang and Gill Construction hopes to have the site’s 324 underground parking spaces and foundation completed by fall.
The plaza at 5120 and 5144 Cordova Bay Rd., south of Doumac Avenue, will host three four-storey buildings, which the developer hopes will contain a grocery store, bank, pharmacy, coffee shop and possibly a medical clinic on the ground floor.
The buildings, with cedar siding, will also include 91 condos, and span 36,000 square feet over the underground parkade.
The 53 people who spoke at the council meeting were evenly split on the project.
Those against it were most concerned with traffic and height, as the village-like oceanside area is dominated by one-storey buildings. Height was also a concern cited by Atwell.
The mayor said in an interview Tuesday that while the site needs to be redeveloped and the concept was attractive, the development’s height could have been amended in light of community concerns.
“All the tenants had been moved out some time ago, and it certainly looked like a derelict site,” Atwell said.
“My only hesitation and disappointment was there was room for staff, developers and the community and community association to go one more short round to address concerns of height at the street level, and there was some latitude for that, but I was the only one who felt that.”
The project needed a development permit, since a 1998 permit allowed for only 16 condos, which were never built.
Although the issue of height was contentious, the site was already zoned for four storeys, which meant council was limited to considering form and character, Lowe said.
Opponents had hoped the development could be reduced to two storeys, and remain concerned about overcrowding and maintaining the area’s village feel. But the project meets the height limitation of 15 metres and exceeds the required setback along Cordova Bay Road, Lowe said.
The new development has been in the works for two years and first came to council a year ago.