Loggers Lofts, a new housing development with some unique characteristics, including its own car-share program, is on its way to downtown Squamish.
The four-storey residential development will be an addition to an existing two-storey building at 38024 Cleveland Ave.
Council authorized granting the proposal its development permit at a special business meeting on July 26.
“We are doing an urban infill project,” said Chris Hunter of Squamish’s Elevation Real Estate Development, the company behind the proposal. “I call it density without demolition.”
While a relatively small development, consisting of four housing units above two commercial units, the project received high praise from Councillor Jason Blackman
-Wulff. “This is the best project I have seen since I got on council,” Blackman-Wulff said.
He told The Squamish Chief the development fits nicely with council’s vision for Cleveland Avenue.
“It is a special area in downtown that is kind of key to our identity as well as a tourist attraction, for small local businesses…. This particular development is maintaining existing tenancy for residences as well as commercial tenants, plus adding new space,” he said.
The development will keep two existing rentals and add two more housing units.
“I think that is a really, really positive development and you can tell that the architects took great care to deal with the constraints of the site in a way that is respectful of the urban form of that area,” Blackman-Wulff said.
The new residences would be accessed from both Cleveland Avenue and Loggers Lane. The shared cars would be located on the Loggers Lane side of the building.
Blackman-Wulff said he was particularly excited about the car-share aspect of the proposal.
“That is a perfect location for that, because we know that if you are living downtown in Squamish, generally speaking you are only going to need a car if you are leaving Squamish, to go into the city or Whistler,” he said.
The developer will provide two “smart cars” and the strata will manage the car share with the vehicles taken and returned to the residence.
Council voted to grant the development its permit despite staff’s recommendation to turn down the permit because of the variance that reduces required extra parking spaces by half and provides no loading zone stall. The district bylaw requires the new development to provide four additional stalls and one loading zone stall.
Meghan Haynes, owner of The Art Garden framing shop that will neighbour the Loggers Loft development, wrote a letter that was submitted to council in opposition to the parking variances.
“Without exaggeration, we hear daily from multiple customers about the struggles... parking downtown,” Haynes wrote. “By asking the District of Squamish to relax their parking requirements and adopt policies of other communities which have yet to be studied or proven in Squamish, we fear that this will open the doors for future development to be given the same approvals and exacerbate the already increasingly serious issue.”
District staff argued in its recommendation to turn down the development permit that there’s “no certainty that the car-share system will continue to operate in the future.” Staff was generally supportive of the project and car share idea but believed the plan needed more work before it was passed, Jonas Velaniskis, the district’s director of development services told council.
Blackman-Wulff said he understands staff’s position.
“Obviously, if the car share fails and then we were in a position of a large development with not enough parking, that would be a significant problem,” he said.
“I just felt like with the downtown Cleveland development that was put before us… it didn’t apply, because the scale was totally different. We are only talking two spaces.”
He also said council would be working toward an official district car-share policy and attracting a full-service car share company to Squamish.
“That will do much more in terms of publicly available car shares and having them spread out through Squamish,” he said.
For more on the Loggers Loft development go to elevationrealestatedevelopment.com/loggerslofts/