Contributed image Concept sketch of the Russell & Maple residential development.

Developer seeking input for Maple & Russell townhome project

Approval of neighbouring 13-storey building ‘really put us in a bind’

The development team behind a residential project near Peace Arch Hospital is seeking public feedback on their concept.

The development, named Russell & Maple, is to be located in the 1500-block of Maple Street, running parallel to the 13-storey mixed-used building by Oviedo Homes on Finlay Street, which passed third reading in July. The Oviedo building is to include 126 residential units plus two storeys of commercial space.

In conversation with PAN last weekend, Russell & Maple developer Raghbir Gurm referred exclusively to the Oviedo development as the “King Kong” buildings.

“We’re standing next to a giant, it’s no exaggeration to call it King Kong,” Gurm said, noting his own development team will be “pushing the envelope” seeking a 3.5 to four-storey limit on its residential building.

Gurm said White Rock council’s approval of the Oviedo development at the corner of Finley and Russell – and the official community plan amendments, from medium density to high density comprehensive – “really put us in a bind.”

“That meant that it was a reasonable transition from six stories down to three stories. You had some reasonable site coverage. But here, we have 85 per cent site coverage and an absolute monstrosity of a building, which is probably going to be the biggest building – in terms of mass – ever built in White Rock.”

At Oviedo’s public hearing last January, many speakers during the hearing applauded the development for its design and for providing “affordable housing.” Coun. Helen Fathers – who joined Mayor Wayne Baldwin and Coun. David Chesney in opposing the zoning amendments – said that “at $700,000 to $800,000 per unit, this is not affordable to a lot of people.”

Gurm said his development team drafted a design of what a three-to-four storey building would look like next to the 13-storey Oviedo.

“We took that King Kong building and placed concepts next to it in trying to remain as close as possible to the OCP,” he said. “We’re just miniature compared to what they’ve got next to us.”

Gurm plans to unveil his concept for Russell & Maple – which includes a number of two-storey townhomes, flats and penthouses – at a public information session Dec. 6 from 6-8 p.m. at Bean Around The World (1400 Jonhston Rd.)

He said his team has yet to present concrete plans to the city, and hopes to gain information from the public.

“The big idea that we want to show off is that we’re open to listening to people,” Gurm said. “The other idea that we want to show off is that we’re designing this for the local community.”

He said a “good outcome” would be if he could gather 10-15 people that would “become an ongoing sounding board as we further fine-tune the ideas.”

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