George façade drops in revised plan

John Gleeson/Staff Writer / Staff writer
February 21, 2014 01:00 AM

This design for the proposed George waterfront hotel and condo development, presented last month to council, has since been revised to incorporate "significant changes" based on recommendations by Gibsons' advisory planning commission, project consultant Art Phillips said.

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The height of the George Hotel's façade on Gower Point Road has been lowered in the latest plans submitted by the developer, Gibsons director of planning Andre Boel told Coast Reporter this week.

"In the revised proposal (received in January, not presented to council yet), the hotel façade on Gower Point Road will be lower, in response to advisory planning commission (APC) recommendations," Boel said Monday in an email.

Boel did not elaborate on the revised plans, saying he did not have all the details of the changes available yet.

George planning consultant Art Phillips said the new plan incorporates "significant changes" based on the APC recommendations. These include "breaking down the roof line" of the hotel, redesigning the façade of the waterfront restaurant, providing a gathering place on the waterfront and changing some of the building materials.

"We received their input, and what we've done is adequately addressed all the issues they raised," Phillips said. "We have listened, and we have responded accordingly."

Under the new design, four hotel rooms were removed from the upper floor and relocated to the waterfront, so that the hotel roof could be "stepped down to reflect the natural terracing of the site," he said. "We have reduced the height, especially on the waterfront side."

In the Nov. 12 version of the proposal, presented to council in January, the highest part of the proposed hotel building measured about 25.5 metres (85 feet) above Gower Point Road and 36 metres (124 feet) from sea level.

However, Boel said of the previous design, "parts of the hotel step down on the Gower Point Road side, so the building façade on Gower Point Road varies between 75 feet (22.5 metres) and 85 feet (25.5 metres) high."

In that version, the highest part of the proposed condominium building measured 19 metres (63 feet) above Gower Point Road and 30 metres (100 feet) from sea level, he said.

Reporting to council last month, Boel acknowledged the proposed hotel and condo complex would be larger than existing buildings in the Landing area, but added: "According to the OCP, over time the building scale will increase."

While opponents of the project have questioned that assertion, Boel cited several sections in the OCP's harbour area plan to support it.

"There are a couple of sections in the plan that talk about the need to balance retaining the character while allowing further development," Boel said.

The vision statement in section 2.3 calls for facilitating "balanced development that ensures the ongoing attractiveness and the social, cultural, economic and environmental vitality of the harbour area, recognizing the unique and crucial role it plays in the life and economy of Gibsons."

Section 3.6 (urban design) under "built form" states: "A significant urban design challenge is to retain the essential village scale and character while moving closer to urbanity, accepting and embracing the growth necessary for an economically viable, sustainable and vibrant community."

Section 4, Boel noted, outlines a range of goals and objectives.

"Objectives 1.1 (compatibility with existing development) and 5.2 (accommodate additional population) reflect the need to balance new development with what's already there. ?In section 5.1 the plan outlines that the land-use framework allows for around 700 new residential units in the area," he said.

Drawings showing existing and future potential development (figures 5.3 and 5.4) "outline the possible implications for the size and location of buildings in the area," he said, while "the map clearly suggests an increase in the amount and size of buildings over time."

As well, he said, the intent of the design guidelines in section 5.2 is "fostering design that retains, reinforces and enhances the character of the harbour area while providing for improvements and change."

Regarding timing, Boel said staff was hoping to report back to council next month with requested studies on the aquifer, visual impacts and revenue projections for the Town.

"This is dependent on the availability of the results from third-party reviewers. This work is now in progress," he said.

© Coast Reporter

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