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Design plans for the 1300-block of Marine Drive in West Van unveiled
West Vancouver residents packed into district council chambers on Nov. 19 to have their say on whether a pair of buildings — one seven storeys, the other eight storeys — should be added to the 1300-block of Marine Drive.
Around 20 people, mostly seniors who live nearby, added their names to the list of speakers as overflow seating and a live-feed were set up outside the meeting room.
Many were upset about a proposed development that would take up an entire block on the south side of Marine Drive, close to the waterfront, saying the buildings would block their view, ruin the feel of the Ambleside community and cause too much traffic.
While some said Ambleside is in desperate need of revitalization and would support the development if the buildings were scaled back, others were adamantly opposed to the idea.
“If approved, the seven and eight-storey redevelopment would be a radical change to the built form of an area residents have enjoyed for close to a century,” said Keith Pople, director of the Ambleside and Dundarave Ratepayers Association, adding be believes the high density of the buildings would be an unwanted precedent for further development.
Others weren’t as critical, saying the buildings were designed well and fit into West Van’s Official Community Plan that states buildings over four storeys should be looked into for the site.
Grosvenor, the company that district council sold the land to in March, showed the crowd drawings of what the buildings would look like, including a central atrium for public art exhibits and green roofs.
The proposed seven and eight-storey buildings would have a pyramid design and green roofs. Grosvenor artist rendering.
The two buildings, which would house 88 residential units and 23 storefronts, aren’t typical towers, said the architect, but would instead be done in layers to optimize the view of the ocean and fit in with the neighbourhood. Around 300 parking stalls would be built underground, with about half for retail customers. The design would be West Coast Modernism, influenced by Arthur Erickson and other architects of the time.
“We believe this project as proposed has the opportunity to be a real catalyst for revitalization in Ambleside and draw more people back,” said James Patillo, Grosvenor’s Vancouver-area manager.
The proposed design reflects ideas gathered from the public last year, he said, although some members of the audience disagreed.
Small commercial buildings and an empty lot are on the site now, as well as the West Van Police Department, which will be moved into a new building beside district hall.
The 88 residential units, ranging from under 1,500 square feet to over 2,500, would be above the ground floor retail spaces. The atrium between the two buildings, said the architects, would provide easier access from the seawall to stores on Marine Drive.
“This project provides substantial benefit to the public of all ages. The do-nothing option means further decline to the Ambleside area, more vacant lots and empty shops,” said West Van real estate agent Stephanie La Porta, addressing the crowd and council members.
“We cannot allow a small minority of naysayers to derail a project that will greatly increase Ambleside’s vitality and viability.”
After everyone who signed up had a chance to speak, council voted unanimously for public consultations about the development to go ahead. The meetings are tentatively scheduled for Jan. 19 at the West Van Community Centre and Jan. 23 at the Kay Meek Centre. Watch westvancouver.ca for exact times. Visit Grosvenor’s website 1300ambleside.ca for more information on the project.