Plans moving forward for new condominium/retail development on site of Echo building

 

Rear view of development proposed for 238 Dalhousie St.

Rear view of development proposed for 238 Dalhousie St.

Front view of the proposed development for 238 Dalhousie St.

Front view of the proposed development for 238 Dalhousie St.

View of the south elevation of the condominium/commercial development proposed for 238 Dalhousie St.

View of the south elevation of the condominium/commercial development proposed for 238 Dalhousie St.

Rear view of development proposed for 238 Dalhousie St.

Rear view of development proposed for 238 Dalhousie St.

By Ron Giofu

 

Plans were unveiled for the condominium and retail development where the Echo building currently sits and council has moved those plans forward.

Town council agreed to consider the zoning bylaw for the property, located at 238 Dalhousie St., at the Aug. 11 regular meeting and to have administration advise the County of Essex that council approves the draft plan approval for the land subject to conditions that may be imposed the municipality.

Rebecca Belanger, the town’s manager of planning services, noted the zoning on the land would change from special provision commercial general CG-4 zone to special provision commercial general CG-10 zone to allow for the development of 17 residential units and commercial space that would face onto the parkette at Navy Yard Park. Belanger reported the zoning would reduce the rear yard requirement from 25 feet to 5.9 feet at the northwest corner and 10.5 feet at the southwest corner.

Belanger called it a “neo-classic design” which will include a “ropewalk” to provide access to the retail areas.

“There are several historical features and items of cultural value being incorporated into the site,” she said.

The “ropewalk” is one of the heritage tributes being built into the site, she said, adding the building will be the Echo Riverside Condominiums and feature a 1,200 square foot community room named the Marsh Room.

Architect Alex Toth said he was “pleased to provide, what we feel, is an exciting new development for the town of Amherstburg.” Calling it a “two part development,” Toth said the four-storey tower would feature residential units from 1,550 square feet to 1,780 square feet with 23 underground parking spaces and four above ground visitor parking spaces. The 2,400 square foot commercial area would have the flexibility of subdividing it into spaces from 550 square feet to 750 square feet or even larger dependent on the tenants that are interested.

The new building would fully be accessible, he added.

“To try and make the (current) building economically feasible is just not a possibility,” he said.

The commercial component of the structure would be built on the footprint of the current building.

Mayor Wayne Hurst spoke in favour of the project.

“It’s going to serve the community for many years to come,” said Hurst.

Toth indicated he was willing to work with local resident Phil Kasurak on another concern with regards to the design, as Kasurak believed the Dalhousie St. side was too “boxy.”

“It’s going to serve the community for many years to come,” said Hurst.

Toth indicated he was willing to work with Kasurak on another concern with regards to the design, as Kasurak believed the Dalhousie St. side was too “boxy.”

Councillor Diane Pouget congratulated Toth on the design of the building, adding she was pleased Toth was willing to work with residents such as Kasurak. She also questioned whether the neighbouring parkette would be damaged during construction.

“We have no intention of disturbing the parkette whatsoever,” Toth told Pouget. “We have no need to be on it.”

“This is great. It looks good,” Councillor Bob Pillon said of the proposed development. “If it meets all the concerns of the residents, that’s great. “It’s a good project and I’m looking forward to it.”

Two units proposed as “rental units” to accommodate condominium owners’ family members was a good idea as well, added Pillon.

Councillor Carolyn Davies said she liked the design of the building as well, and noted a preference to have a local flair to it.

“I do believe it has to be Amherstburg-specific architectural value and not just some ‘days gone-by’ architectural value of other communities,” said Davies.

Hurst told council members that many of their concerns have already been addressed by the proponent, emphasizing his belief that it is “an exciting time” in town.

“They’ve paid attention to detail,” he said. “This wasn’t something done in a knee-jerk fashion.”

Councillor John Sutton said he liked the fact the building would add to the town’s tax base and called the proposed development “a real anchor to the downtown core.” He also believed it would a “pedestrian friendly” development as well.

Sutton also touted previous infrastructure upgrades, stating those past developments are allowing proponents to come forward with such developments as the Echo Riverside Condominiums. While the town has experienced a lot of “gloom and doom,” Sutton added “it’s important to celebrate successes as well.”
Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland was also enthused with the proposed development, and made the motion that it advance to the next stage.

“I’m in total agreement with this project,” said Sutherland. “I’m excited as well.”

Should final approval eventually be given, demolition of the current Echo building and construction of the new condominium and retail building would not start until next year at the earliest. Building owner Eowana Needham has previously stated that demolition is not imminent as current tenants still have leases and nothing would happen until sometime in 2015 at the earliest if businesses with leases were able to relocate by then.

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