White Rock council’s stance on condo towers is about to be tested.
A proposal for a new 23-storey tower in White Rock’s Town Centre will be going before council’s Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC), live-streamed on the city website starting at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 26.
The proposal is within current zoning guidelines for the property, site of the strip mall that houses 3 Dogs Brewing, White Rock Beach Beer and The Wooden Spoon restaurant.
According to a corporate report to the LUPC from planning and development services director Carl Isaak, what makes the proposal stand apart from other similar projects is that it could potentially include a new city hall/civic centre to replace White Rock’s aging city hall on Buena Vista Avenue.
Suggested is that – as in Surrey’s city hall – the new council chambers could also serve the community as a theatre/performance auditorium.
In the mixed retail/residential proposal – for 1513 Johnston Rd. (at Russell Avenue) – the civic centre would occupy part of the ground floor, including a lobby/galleria area that could “potentially host events outside of office hours.”
There would also be city offices on both the ground and second floors of the development, the report reveals.
Current site plans also show a brewery, plus two unspecified retail spaces, as part of the ground-floor layout. The development would be across the street from a future park-plaza next to the White Rock Playhouse theatre; while another park is planned just north of the proposed development, on the west side of Johnston Road.
Developer Michael Habibi was scheduled to comment on the proposal at the Oct. 19 meeting of the LUPC, but the discussion was rescheduled to Oct. 26, due to shortage of time.
Isaak said staff approached the developer to consider including the civic centre component, in keeping with the current Official Community Plan, which suggests exploring whether city hall can relocate to the Town Centre.
According to Isaak’s report, part of the suggested civic centre space would be considered a community amenity contribution (CAC) from the developer – estimated at some $5.5 million – in return for a density bonus under existing Town Centre zoning.
A 2019 corporate report estimated the cost of constructing a new free-standing city hall at between $16 million and $20 million; full costs to the city of a civic centre in the proposed building are still to be determined.
Some of the costs, the report suggests, could be recouped from “cash-in-lieu CACs from other projects, the sale to the developers of the city lane adjacent to the parcel (if considered surplus to the city’s needs), or the sale of other surplus city properties.”
At present, the city has earmarked $3 million in the current financial plan for renovations to the existing city hall.