By Doug Hallett
City hall is inviting public comment on a developer’s revised proposal for retail space in a development that’s to go on the former Lafarge gravel quarry lands east of the Hanlon Parkway.
Silvercreek Guelph Developments Ltd. reached a mediated settlement with city hall and a neigbourhood association in 2008 through the Ontario Municipal Board. However, its revised plan for commercial development on the site is being treated as a “fresh application,” said senior development planner Katie Nasswetter.
The application will come to a Feb. 4 planning meeting of city council for public comment before city planners make any recommendations to council. Public delegations for that 7 p.m. meeting are being urged to register by Jan. 30. Written comments are also being accepted by the city clerk. The changes to commercial development being sought by the developer would require zoning and Official Plan changes, said Nasswetter, the city hall planner in charge of the file.
According to a public notice distributed to neighbours and posted on the city’s website, the developer wants to be allowed to include a supermarket as a permitted use.
“That would be one of the significant changes” in the new application, Nasswetter said in an interview.
Work hasn’t yet started on connecting the two sections of Silvercreek Parkway, which would require an underpass to be built at the CN mainline near Paisley Road, Nasswetter said. “I do believe it is anticipated this year, though,” she said.
The new section of road through the development would connect Silvercreek Parkway North, which now ends just south of Paisley Road, with the southern part of Silvercreek near Waterloo Avenue.
The mediated OMB settlement included a reduction in the amount of retail space on the former quarry site from 450,000 square feet to 245,000 square feet. It allowed one 145,000-sq.-ft. big box store to be built, with a restriction that it be either a warehouse membership club or a home improvement retail warehouse.
Now Silvercreek wants this restriction to be removed and a broader range of retail uses, including a supermarket, to be allowed.
A supermarket would be instead of a big box store, not in addition to one, Nasswetter said.
The mediated settlement calls for a variety of development on the vacant 54-acre site, including office space and housing to the east of the new section of Silvercreek Parkway. The office space would be north of a new city park, while the housing would be south of the park.
Originally, the retail part of the development was all to be located on the west side of the Silvercreek extension, between Silvercreek and the Hanlon. Now the developer wants to be allowed to shift 10,000 of the allowed 245,000 square feet of retail space to be near the “market square” part of the development.
The “market square” would be a pedestrian-oriented section of the development surrounded by service-commercial space, which can include such things as restaurants, banks, florists and the like, Nasswetter said. “The idea is to have a more urban square in the middle of the site.”
The developer had hoped a Costco big box store would anchor its retail development on the site, but Costco opted for a site west of the west end Zehrs. That Costco-anchored development on land owned by Armel Corp. was approved by city council in October.
Now Silvercreek Guelph Developments Ltd. wants to change the layout, as well as the number and size, of retail stores to be built near the Hanlon on the former Lafarge site. None of the stores would be as big as the big box store previously envisioned for the site.
The developer has submitted a new market-impact study on the potential effects of this change on other retail in the city, and “we will be evaluating that,” Nasswetter said.
The mediated settlement called for phasing of retail development on the former Lafarge lands, with a building permit to be issued for the big box store as early as September 2012 and no other retail building permits to be issued before September 2014.
“They have asked to remove the timing restrictions, so we will be evaluating that too,” she said.
The developer’s application for changes applies to almost 22 acres of the 54-acre site. A report by planning staff on the developer’s new application will be made public on Jan. 25. The city clerk’s office can be reached at 519-837-5603.