By Tracy Holmes – Peace Arch News
Posted May 19, 2016 at 5:00 PM— updated May 20, 2016 at 9:35 AM
Proponents behind a highrise rental retirement building eyed for uptown White Rock say the 23-storey project could be move-in ready within three years, barring anything unforeseen.
Rainer Müller, chair and founder of PARC Retirement Living, said Tuesday if all approvals are received as hoped – the development application was submitted this month – construction of the 204-unit building could get underway next spring.
It was first proposed to the city in December as a 19-storey development on three lots, at 1564 and 1554 Johnston Rd. and 1563 George St. Following discussions with city staff, the height was adjusted to a “taller and thinner” 23 storeys to reduce its footprint.
Müller said the shift reduces the $100-million project’s width to 100 feet from 120 feet.
It will be PARC’s fifth such project, and its first south of the Fraser, said Müller. Others have been built in North Vancouver, Burnaby, the District of North Vancouver and West Vancouver.
Müller – who divides his time between Switzerland and Vancouver, and first visited White Rock in 1988 – said he got involved in developing such projects after a positive experience finding such a residence for his own mother in Switzerland.
The White Rock property was purchased at the end of August last year.
While height has historically been a contentious topic in the seaside city, Müller and Russell Hobbs, PARC’s VP of operations and construction, told Peace Arch News they’ve had no negative feedback.
Communications spokesperson Julie Marzolf credited that to staying within existing town-centre zoning – which allows for heights of up to 25 storeys – along with PARC’s efforts to engage the community in the process, and that the project will meet a need.
“One thing that keeps coming up is people want places to gather,” she said. “It met the needs for a really viable seniors residence in a really great location.”
It will also add to efforts to revitalize the Johnston Road corridor, she said.
The proposed project includes a two-storey retail and amenity building that will front on Johnston, and connect to the highrise via a walkway.
Hobbs described that part of the project as a nice interface between the community and the residential building. It will include a rooftop garden for the residents and street-level commercial space designed to welcome the community.
The highrise will include multi-purpose space that will be available for community use; and, local artwork – including that of the late Voja Morosan – is being collected to adorn common areas.
Müller said in addition to meeting a need for centrally located independent seniors residences, the development will create jobs. He estimated annual wages at $2.5-3 million.
Three variances are being sought for the project: to setbacks for portions of the building above 10.7 metres; to the front-lot line setback, for an entrance canopy; and to reduce required parking spaces to 100 from 332.
Müller said the project would not compete with the under-construction Residences at Abby Lane, being built just a block away, in the 15300-block of 16 Avenue. That development includes privately owned suites as well as independent, assisted-living and “memory-care” units.
“It’s like you have two different cars… we have two different styles,” he said.
A public information meeting on PARC’s project is set for 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday (May 24) at the White Rock Community Centre, 15154 Russell Ave.