By ROY WOOD
After 14 years standing empty, the fourth quadrant at the Casa Rio condo complex on Spillway Road south of the hospital may be headed toward development.
A permit request was presented to council tonight from Kelowna-based HB Land Company to build seven fourplexes over the next few years on the northeast corner of the property.
The rest of the site holds three apartment buildings containing 35 units each, which were built starting in 2005.
A fourth such block was planned and approved for the site, but the development was abandoned before it could be built. The parcel has been empty since then.
The plans that council saw this evening show a building concept markedly different in form and style from the larger apartment blocks that share the site. The structures are much smaller and more angular in design.
Developer Brook Melchin told council that the idea was to avoid another “big-block building” but to build a “softer version of modern designs” that are “not so hard-edged.”
He said plans call for a phased approach to the project, whereby the fourplexes will be built one at a time and subsequent ones started only when the inventory has sold.
Given the uncertainties inherent in real estate developments, such phasing provides a way to “de-risk the future,” he said.
Contract planner Chris Garrish explained to council several variances sought by the developer. Three of them seek easing of the parking requirements and the fourth looks for an easing of the amount of amenity and open space required.
The developer has said in support of the proposal that it is designed with an eye to increasing the pool of available rental housing.
“Many of the units are … under 700 (square feet) and will respond to demands in the affordable market category. It is expected that this will add to the rental pool as well as owner-occupied units,” he stated.
“There is a deliberate effort to have one unit per block that is larger that also includes a residential lift to encourage owner-occupied buildings and to attract a meaningful cross section of occupants.”
Council members quizzed Melchin and Garrish for about 30 minutes on various aspects before finally deciding to put off a decision on the application until the developer returns with a revised plan that includes two additional visitor parking spaces, bringing the total to 10.
About 20 residents of Casa Rio crowded the chamber to witness the discussion. One resident used the public question period at the end of the meeting to tell council that after all these years, there is still no legal, city-road access to the property.
Mayor Martin Johansen said he hadn’t been aware of that situation and promised to look into it.