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South end apartment complex gets nod

By Doug Hallett
Guelph Tribune
A nod from council means tree removal is starting this week on a Gordon Street site where a six-storey apartment development is to be built next to a provincially significant wetland.
Waterloo-based HIP Developments got council’s approval of a preliminary site plan for the “Solstice” development on the west side of Gordon Street, just south of where Gordon intersects with Edinburgh Road South.
The development consists of 160 three- and four-bedroom units. Its “boxy and colourful” design is meant to appeal to the university students who are expected to live there, HIP vice-president Scott Higgins told council Monday.
Tree removal is happening before migratory birds begin nesting in the area.
City hall says 919 trees, most of them non-native Scotch pine, will be removed immediately. When the project is complete, the developer will compensate for the lost trees by planting more than 900 native trees and shrubs, the city says. Some will be planted in a naturalization area and others in stormwater management and landscaped areas.
City staff recommended Monday that council give preliminary approval to the project’s site plan in spite of concerns expressed by Laura Murr, who appeared as a delegation.
Murr wanted more study of the potential effects of pumping up to one million litres of water a day at the site during the two-year construction period. The water is to be discharged into the Hanlon Creek provincially significant wetland, which is part of the Hanlon Creek Conservation Area to the west and south of the four-acre building site.
Ward 6 councillor Todd Dennis voted for the preliminary approval, but not before saying he wasn’t crazy about the design of the building. He said he liked the original building concept that had been marketed as “Serene,” with a different target market.
“I’m not too sure about this one,” Dennis said of the Solstice design. He asked what sort of reaction the developers have got from the community to the latest design, which he noted was “toned down” from the original Solstice design.
It is “polarizing” architecture, Higgins replied, but “I think that is what modern architecture is meant to do.”
Coun. Leanne Piper questioned the amount of parking to be provided for what she estimated could be 500 occupants of the building.
Higgins said there will be 198 parking spots. That should be enough in view of the express bus service to the university along Gordon, he said, noting there will be plenty of bike storage space in the building.
Katie Nasswetter, a senior development planner at city hall, said she didn’t think city staff “have any concerns about the parking issue” at Solstice.
The development is to include one level of underground parking, with six residential storeys above. The development will include 2,000 square feet of outdoor terrace space, Higgins noted.
He said the building’s “footprint” on the site is only half as big as the footprint that had been planned for the Serene development. The site was rezoned for the Serene development in 2010. However, the building concept ended up being changed and the project was remarketed as Solstice.
The Solstice development will provide $2.6 million worth of development charges for the city, as well as additional annual property taxes of $584,000, said a staff report.

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