The first public discussion about what may become two of Aldershot’s tallest buildings lasted only 71 minutes this week and attracted only nine questions and comments from the public.
The meeting, about the property at the north west corner of Cooke Boulevard and Masonry Court near the GO Station, was hosted by the Camarro Development Group of Hamilton. For the first time, the company showed the public its proposal to construct two residential towers thirty and thirty-two storeys high at 1062 and 1074 Cooke Boulevard. The site is currently occupied by two one-storey commercial buildings.
The virtual public meeting, aimed at obtaining community input, was required by the City prior to submission of a formal planning application. A spokesperson for the developer maintained that the proposal is considered preliminary and open to public input, despite the fact that consultations have already taken place with City staff.
The two proposed towers would contain about 782 residential units, both rental and condo. There would be 828 parking spots most of which would be underground. The towers would rise from a common four to six-storey podium that would wrap around the entire structure. There would be a common main entrance, driveway and drop off point joining the two towers on Cooke Boulevard and an additional parking entrance off Masonry Court.
One of the few comments received from the public was from a woman identified as Debra. “This proposal does not fit within this neighbourhood…Too tall”.
Retail or Not ?
Councillor Kelvin Galbraith inquired whether the building would include much needed retail space, something encouraged by the local Business Improvement Area (BIA) of which he is a member.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward later reinforced the need for retail. “Certainly, we want to make sure that there are commercial spaces in these buildings. It has to be more than housing”.
Both members of Council cited the fact that the City is currently studying the entire area in order to develop detailed precinct plans. City Planners have suggested that Cooke Boulevard should evolve into “Cooke Precinct” and should be special in a way not obvious in Camarro’s preliminary plan.
“This precinct will serve as a unique dining and retail destination leading to the GO Station with a focus on creating a comfortable and vibrant pedestrian environment…… A flexible street is also being considered to provide opportunities for a community gathering space and the potential for special events. Mixed use buildings will contribute toward a lively, vibrant and people-oriented place”, City planners told the public only a week ago.
Camarro’s representative said retail has not been ruled out.
“It’s something that we have definitely looked at and are definitely considering……It’s definitely something that’s part of our review and consideration that we’re going to seriously look at”.
In an interview earlier this year, however, Camarro CEO and President Kyle Camarro said he was not enthusiastic about retail in his buildings. He said he would need some assurance that the retailers would be upscale, something he worries he could not control. “I don’t want a nail salon or a dry cleaner or anything ugly on the first floor”.
If Camarro proceeds with a formal application to the City, it would require amendments to both the Official Plan and the Zoning Bylaw.
By Rick Craven