A Greater Victoria developer has confirmed ongoing interest in the redevelopment of an iconic motel in Sidney, a redevelopment that could turn the corner of Lochside Drive and Weiler Avenue into a mixed use area.
Jordan Milne, president and chief executive officer of GMC Projects, said his company (which struck a conditional deal to purchase the lot before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic) “will most likely” bring forward an application “of some kind” for the current Cedarwood Inn and Suites after the Town of Sidney has completed the review of its official community plan (OCP) underway since last year.
“We don’t know what that (application) is going to look like,” he said. “It will be pending the official community plan.”
Such an application would involve a rezoning of the site, Milne said, adding the company is holding off until the vision for the site has become clear. “There is a huge advantage and value in hearing from the community,” he said.
The current zoning map designates the site C4 (neighbourhood motel) with a maximum height of two storeys (or nine metres) and a maximum lot coverage of 45 per cent. The current OCP passed in 2007 outlining future land uses designates the site C2 (neighbourhood commercial).
Milne said his company had looked at building rental housing on the site, but changing market conditions changed the company’s direction. “So we don’t have anything set in stone at this point in terms of what it will or will not be.”
But it could end up being a neighbourhood village. “My understanding is that the site has been identified as a neighbourhood village in terms of the OCP and that from the broadest context is a good way of describing the high level vision that we would have for what that site could serve in the community, a neighbourhood mixed-use village.”
That part of Sidney currently lacks services, he said. “So we see this property as an opportunity to provide some commercial services, mixed with other uses, including residential,” he said. When asked about the density of any future re-development, Milne reiterated that his company will wait until the OCP review is completed. “But the idea of something in the three to four storey height range is reasonable to anticipate,” he said. This mixed-use development could feature multiple buildings of various kinds and heights “but nothing above four storeys,” he added later.
Milne said he has been participating in the OCP review process as an individual without having made any specific submissions about that property.
Also following the OCP review is Les Tait, who has owned the business for 45 years. He put it up for sale five years ago, adding later that some 15 different parties have shown interest in the site. “Everybody wants the place, but nobody wants the zoning,” said Tait.
According to the available timeline for the OCP review, the process has reached the hird phase (drafting of the plan) with the fourth phase (finalizing of the plan) scheduled for December 2021 through February 2022.
Corey Newcomb, Sidney’s senior manager for long range planning, said the existing OCP contemplates a wider range of commercial services on sites like the Cedarwood Inn and Suites, although the zoning currently only allows the motel and a restaurant.
Pointing to a background report, Newcomb said the area is lacking in some neighbourhood services. “So we are looking at the possibility of carrying this commercial designation forward and encouraging some additional uses so that nearby residents have the ability to walk to some level of local commercial services,” he said. “What these services might be and the extent of them on the site has not been determined yet as work on the OCP update continues and we are still hearing from the community in a number of forms.”
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