Kelowna council underwhelmed by row housing project design

Academy Ridge proponents asked to explain exterior design decisions to council

Calling it boring and dull, Kelowna council has deferred its approval of a 154-unit row housing development proposed for Academy Way.

The Academy Ridge project design was presented to council Monday for first reading on a development permit application after extensive consultations with city planning staff.

While the project falls within the RM3 low density multiple housing zoning design guidelines and requiring no variance permits, several councillors expressed a desire to see a more dynamic design presentation.

Coun. Luke Stack said while there are a number of positive design attributes to the project he was looking for more architecture design creativity.

“I would like to have seen more variation on roof heights or just a different architectural mix once in a while, as having 156 units that all look exactly the same seems a bit overwhelming,” he said.

“It’s great to see the expanded housing supply but we want to see neighbourhoods developed that people feel good about living there and people feel good about driving through them…rather than seeing the cookie cutter approach.”

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Academy Ridge will encompass 30 separate buildings built over 11 separate construction phases on the east-facing 7.95-acre Academy Way property south of UBC Okanagan.

The design intent was to create a “living street concept” within a people friendly neighbourhood development with both garage and tandem parking allotments and an interior courtyard known as “The Park,” with lectern style seating around a lawn area accompanied by a variety of tree and shrub species.

Coun. Gail Given said nothing can be one to address what she called “form and character” design concerns if council adopts first reading on the development permit application is passed, which led Mayor Colin Basran to introduce a defer motion to enable the project owner, Watermark Developments Ltd., and permit applicant, Meiklejohn Architects, to give their viewpoint on the design choices made at an upcoming council meeting.

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City planning staff indicated discussion has taken place with the project applicant but the final design was what they wanted to proceed with.

Parking was another issue for some councillors who expressed concerns for the tandem parking. Of the 154 units, side-by-side garage parking is proposed for 88 units, and tandem parking for 66 units.

Tandem parking is configured like a single, double-length perpendicular parking spot. One space will be in front of the other, such that one car will have to pull out in order to access the second one.

Coun. Loyal Wooldridge felt the tandem parking aspect would lead to spillover parking although as a major arterial route in the city’s north end, no parking is allotted on Academy Way.

Basran noted parking was not an issue for him, but felt further discussion with council from the Academy Ridge proponents was in order.

“If we reject the application at this point we send them all the way back to step one,” Basran said, saying clarification is needed on the project’s exterior design choices and parking options.

“By deferring this, we allow the development team the opportunity to come before us and express their rationale behind the design and answer questions from council before we decide to either send them back or say it’s okay with us.”



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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