Apartment building could replace Weyburn homes

By Greg Nikkel / Weyburn Review
June 11, 2014 01:00 AM

City council is asking for public input on a request to replace four homes on Second Street with one large modular-built apartment complex containing 60 suites.

Council gave first reading on a bylaw amendment, which proposes to change the zoning of the four homes, extending south on Second Street from the east corner at Prairie Avenue, from R2 residential semi-detached to CBD-C, which is Central Business District by contract.

This would allow for the construction of an apartment complex to the standards set for the downtown area, which will see up to 60 units replacing the four homes currently in that location, near the Court House and McKenna Hall.

The downtown area has seen several apartment structures built in recent years, and much of the surrounding land use is designated as R3, which accommodates higher-density infill development in older areas. This part of Weyburn is designated as the East Central Residential Neighbourhood, which recognizes primarily residential use but recognizes that the downtown area will continue to expand, and the downtown fringe area will continue to be pushed further to the north and east.

The homes to be replaced are 322, 326, 332 and 338 Second Street, and developer Kevin O'Brien told council he wants to engage Guerdon Modular of Boise, Idaho, and Wilhelm Construction to build and project manage the development of the apartment building.

In information provided to the city's director of planning and development, Martino Verhaeghe, the developer received feedback from the neighbouring churches in the area of this development, and "we feel there is a need for higher-end condos geared to seniors transitioning from single-family home and farms, who want to live in town, do not want to drive and can easily walk to health care, shopping, etc. Without any advertising, we get numerous calls every month from seniors who are members of neighbouring churches asking if we are building condos. We feel while there may be a surplus of condos today, by the time our project is complete, any surplus will be absorbed."

The proposed design for this apartment is "The Strathmore", which is a high-end condo development in Regina and the developer feels this would be a fit for the Second Street location in Weyburn.

Speaking to the proposal, Coun. Dick Michel commented on the glut of condos in the city currently.

"There are lots of condos in the city. I get questioned by people, 'is there a glut of condos in Weyburn?' I know of around 50 condo units in Weyburn that are vacant. If you think there's a market for it, that's fine, but the public has to know what's going on at that location, potentially," he said.

Coun. Mel Van Betuw said he questions the planned lack of a setback for the apartment, for that area of the city, and noted the Regina location of the Strathmore has quite a bit of landscaped property as setback.

"It's not a commercial-looking building," he added.

O'Brien said he and his partners are flexible about any changes to the plans that the city might like to see.

"I would really think the public should give us feedback on this. This proposal looks and feels a little different," said Mayor Debra Button, who asked the public to send in any comments or emails to council if they have concerns about this proposed development. The matter will be brought back to council on Monday, July 21, to allow time for public comments.

City council also gave first reading to a proposal from Riverwood Development to allow for secondary suites in duplexes or semi-detached dwellings.

Currently the zoning bylaw will only allow for a secondary suite in the basement of a detached home; the developers are asking for a textual amendment to the bylaw to allow for secondary suites in semi-detached dwellings.

"With the current housing prices rising exponentially, buyers are looking for alternatives to own their home, and having the ability to rent a secondary suite will allow for a larger segment of the population to afford to carry a mortgage," said a letter from Munir Haque, development manager for Riverwood Development.

In Phase 1 of Riverwood, the developers are proposing, as a pilot project, to build four duplexes on land originally set up as three residential lots for detached dwellings. The developer feels this would also help the city in providing some rental units to be available for local residents, and will allow for more affordable home ownership.

The four duplexes are proposed for Saskatchewan Drive just east of the existing SaskPower training facility.

"As of yet, due to the existing bylaw, this is untested market within Weyburn for this housing option. So there is no market study that we can use to support this proposal, other than the city's own needs assessments that indicate general shortage of housing," said the letter to the city, pointing out this is based on successful use in Fort McMurray, Alta., where a housing shortage was also in place.

Haque told council that running this as a pilot project would help the city to determine if this would be a feasible project to allow.

"We think this will add to the city-scape as you go through Saskatchewan Drive," he added, noting the plan is to make the suite a fully-independent basement suite.

In one design provided, the home overall would have 2,100 square feet of space, with upper floor to have 1,332 sq.ft. and the basement suite to have 775 sq.ft.

Asked if these would be ready-to-move (RTM) developments, Haque noted these would "stick-built", as in built on-site from the ground up, not modular.

"If there's an opportunity to build more of them, we'll work with a modular develop, and we'll make sure they fit in with the community," said Haque.

Council approved a request from the Silver Seals speed-swimming club to use the parking lot at the Leisure Centre for camping purposes, as they prepare to host the speed-swimming provincials here on July 26-27.

The approval was subject to a couple of conditions, including that a parking plan be drawn up, and that they be responsible for providing their own refuse bin for the use of the campers.

In a letter to the city, Silver Seals president Darin Bitz noted this provincial event averages over 150 participants plus family members; they asked for use of the parking lot from the evening of Friday, July 25 to the afternoon of Sunday, July 27.

Other organizations like Minor Ball and Minor Soccer indicated they foresee no problem with this use of the parking lot, and police chief Marlo Pritchard agreed from the city police's point of view.

In other council news, Mayor Debra Button left Tuesday for Calgary, to represent the city at the biennial Petroleum Show, along with Chamber of Commerce representatives.

© Copyright 2014 Weyburn Review

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