A 12-storey mixed-use building is being proposed at one of the entrances to the Queen’s Park neighbourhood.
The United Property Resource Corporation has applied to the City of New Westminster for a preliminary application review for an official community plan amendment, a heritage revitalization agreement, a rezoning and a development permit for 529 Queens Ave. – the longtime home of Queens Avenue United Church. The applicant is proposing to build a 12-storey residential building that’s 100% rental, with 70% of the units being market rentals and 30% being below-market rentals.
According to the development’s website, the project would retain and revitalize the church’s sanctuary space that fronts onto Sixth Street, would include a new non-profit childcare facility for approximately 79 spaces and would have a small-scale commercial space such as a coffee shop.
A May 28 newsletter to the Queens Avenue United Church congregation included an update on its property redevelopment plans. It noted the church is in the “very early stages” of this review.
“We are very excited to let you know that the preliminary application review package (with our redevelopment proposal) was filed with the City of New Westminster on Friday, May 21,” stated the newsletter. “This launches an initial political process with the staff of the city, and engagement with the people of New Westminster. A public website went live on Tuesday, with all of the information about the proposal that is available at this time. The website will be updated throughout the process as information becomes available.”
The preliminary application review (PAR) has yet to make its way to the city’s land use and planning committee (LUPC), which includes three council members. Development applications are generally considered by the LUPC, which provides input on proposals before they’re forwarded to city council.
Jackie Teed, the city’s senior manager of development services, confirmed the city has had an inquiry related to redevelopment of the site.
“Any applications we receive would become public once they go to LUPC/council, and staff would be able to comment at that time,” she said in an email to the Record. “Generally we aim to advance PAR applications we receive which have early and significant public interest as quickly as we can to LUPC/council.”
Queens Avenue United Church is located at the corner of Sixth Street and Queens Avenue.
The project’s website states the project will be designed in a way that allows for “an appropriate transition” to the single-family neighbourhood to the east of the site.
“The bulk of the density is situated in a tower form adjacent to the retained sanctuary, as far from the single-family homes to the east as possible. This narrower profile also reduces the amount of shadowing and the length of time shadows are present in any given location,” states the website. “The podium of the building also steps down towards the east to minimize the impact on the single-family home, transitioning in scale from single family height up to the taller form.”
The proponent is planning to do an analysis of purpose-built rental buildings in the surrounding area in New Westminster to determine the rental rate for the market-rental units, which are proposed for 70% of the units. It’s proposed that the remaining 30% of the units would be below-market homes (approximately 50% below market rates or 80% below median market rent).
The website notes that the details may change as the proposal evolves.
“The United Church of Canada holds a number of sites throughout the country, including Queens Avenue in New Westminster. With shrinking attendance, congregations are being consolidated and sites are being left vacant,” reads a statement on the website. “However, we want to see these sites continue to be community hubs and generate life and activity. Redevelopment of these sites to deliver affordable housing and community amenities is a priority of the Queens Avenue congregation and aligned with UPRC’s vision and the United Church’s principles to give back to the community.”
The building at 529 Queens Ave. is currently home to two child-care centres providing 79 spaces – 33 spaces are operated by Queens Avenue Daycare Society and 46 spaces operated by Frog Hollow Montessori House.
“UPRC will work with the city and two current operators to find them appropriate alternate spaces,” said the website. “The objective will be to find space in New Westminster, where they can continue to operate their facilities. The earliest the daycare and Montessori will have to move is June 2022.”
More information about the project can be found at www.529queensave.com. People can also sign up to receive updates on the project.