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Quadruplex proposed in Queen’s Park neighbourhood

Existing rental building would be retained

A 1930 apartment building in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood could be restored as part of a project that includes construction of a new four-unit rental building.

The city’s land use and planning committee recently considered a pre-application review regarding an infill quadruplex at 401 Fifth St. It would be built on the site that’s also home to St. James Apartments, a three-storey rental building that was built in 1930 and currently contains 15 units, including one that was created without permits.

Britney Dack, the city’s senior heritage planner, said the applicant is proposing to restore and protect the existing building through a heritage revitalization agreement and to build four additional rental units in the quadruplex. She noted the application is “quite preliminary.”

“It would be a net increase in units,” she said. “There is some work to do legalizing some of the units currently existing in the apartment building, so that would be reduced, likely by one or two units. But there would be an additional gain of four units.”

A staff report noted the site is designated for low-density housing in the official community plan, which allows both lowrise and infill housing forms, such as quadruplexes. The proposal would see a 188-square-metre (2,035-square-foot) quadruplex built on a lawn that’s located between the existing apartment building and the neighbouring single-family home.

“The HRA does provide the opportunity to guide the design of the proposed infill building, so making sure that it is respectful of both the existing heritage asset on-site but also the neighbouring single-detached context and also those heritage protected properties along Fifth Street and Fourth Avenue,” Dack said. “The HRA will have some control there. They are proposing a stepped building that would step down from its adjacency to the current building down that neighbouring house.”

As part of this application, staff recommended the applicant’s tenant assistance plan be up-to-date and reflect the city’s best practices.

The land use and planning commission, which includes three council members, endorsed several staff recommendations related the application, including directing the applicant to use a heritage revitalization agreement for the “regularization of the apartment and the construction of the infill quadruplex” and to amend the proposed tenant assistance plan so it’s consistent with the city’s tenant relocation policy and the business regulation and licensing bylaw.  The LUPC also directed staff to advise the applicant that the proposed setback and height of the infill building are consistent with the need to be respectful of the neighbourhood context.

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said he’d like staff to work with the applicant and the community on the design of the infill building.

“I think at one time I was worried we were going to lose that entire building and lose those rentals in Queen’s Park. I am pleased that they will be retained,” he said. “I think that allowing this to go forward to council will engage the community. I support it going forward to council.”

A staff report stated the building has been in decline for some years and is in need of a major exterior upgrade. As part of a heritage revitalizations agreement, the restoration would be guided by a heritage professional.

Coun. Nadine Nakagawa said she’s pleased to see this application come forward. She noted parts of the building’s exterior are covered in tarps, and it has clearly been in “rough shape” for a long time.

“I do have concerns about the tenants who are living there. It seems that there have been ongoing conversations, proactive conversations with tenants prior to it coming here,” she added. “This seems like an opportunity to add some density in that area, plus get that building up to a more livable level.”

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