Niagara Falls city council has approved a 10-storey mixed-use commercial and residential development on four parcels of land that front onto Main Street as well as a portion of a rear yard on Lowell Avenue.
Politicians backed the developer’s official plan and zoning bylaw amendment application to permit the project that will include a two-storey commercial-use podium and an eight-storey residential tower providing 107 dwelling units. A total of 150 parking spaces will be available.
The subject land is partially vacant as former commercial and residential buildings that were on the Main Street parcels have been demolished. The dwelling at 5669 Main St. will be removed prior to development, and the severed portion of 5662 Lowell Ave. will function as its rear yard.
During a public meeting Tuesday, city planner Julie Hannah said the commercial uses will be closest to Main Street, with the dwellings at the rear and above the entire building.
She said a neighborhood open house was held to discuss the proposal, and further public comments were received by staff. Several concerns were raised by the public, including the development leading to noise, light spillover and loss of privacy.
“These issues will be addressed through site-plan control where the plans that will be received will be reviewed,” said Hannah.
She said traffic concerns were also raised, but transportation services staff believe the road network can handle traffic generated by the development.
Hannah said there were concerns the proposed parking rate was low, but staff supports it.
She said there were questions about prospective tenants and ownership of the units.
“The commercial uses have not yet been identified but they would be the permitted (general commercial) uses of that zone, and it is expected to be a condominium development.”
Hannah said some residents felt the development is not in character with the neighborhood, but that the neighborhood is “changing, and the proposed development’s design and use is compatible.”
She said the proposal conforms to provincial, regional and city policies, and that staff is supportive of the development subject to the proposal providing a 45-degree angular plane from the rear-lot line to the top of the building.
A staff report said the development will intensify land within the built-up area, will help the city in meeting its intensification targets, will provide additional housing choices for residents, and will rehabilitate and enhance the historic Drummondville area.
Coun. Lori Lococo asked if any units will be set aside for affordable housing.
Michael Allen, an agent for the developer, told the council the units ranging in size between 55 and 83 square meters (600 and 900 square feet) will “allow us to provide quite a mix of units and unit styles.”
“It also allows us to dictate the market so that we’re really pushing for end users as opposed to just people that are investing because we think that this is a great area, and the developers think this is a great area for the people to live and thrive in, ”he said.
“As far as having affordable housing, that’s definitely something that will be taken into consideration once we get into the actual design. It will be a condominium development, so it is not the intent to do this as a rental. ”
Coun. Vince Kerrio said the size of the units indicates “they’re going to be somewhat affordable.”
“If we want to talk about affordable housing, it’s not the builder that throws all the costs on building these units,” he said.
“Regional development charges, city development charges, red tape. That’s all the stuff that adds to these. If we want to really get involved in helping them, we have to go after those things. The size of the unit could be affordable, but when you do all the things that the government – us included – make them do, it takes it out of the realm of being affordable. ”