Kitchener Development Meeting Includes Live Music, Dogs

  • 07/5/16
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KITCHENER — As a long-planned condo development on the site of the old Barra Castle nears approval, the developer and city planner on the project met with residents in an informal front-yard meeting that included live music, iced tea, snacks and a handful of neighbourhood dogs.
The meeting attracted more than 60 people on Monday evening on the front lawn of the now-abandoned homes that develop Michael Puopolo hopes to redevelop.
Puopolo, and his company Polocorp, hope to go to city council by the end of August for zoning approvals to build a seven-storey, 107-unit condo project on the Barra land at 399-411 Queen St. S., as well as seven three-storey townhouses on four house lots on Benton Street that back onto the Barra land.
Puopolo highlighted several changes Monday to the design, mostly to the townhouses.
At a public meeting in February, residents raised concerns about the potential for traffic along quiet Benton Street, and about the look of the townhouses on Benton. They made it clear they want the townhouses to blend in with surrounding homes, many of which feature dormer windows and front porches.
The latest proposal reduces the number of townhouses from eight to seven and replaces the original flat-roofed design with homes with pitched roofs, bay windows and front porches. Garages and parking have also shifted away from Benton Street to an inner street behind the townhouses.
Cindy Ward, who helps organize the local porch party, said she was happy to see the porches included, but hopes they end up being proper, deep porches where people can sit rather than narrow, purely decorative ones.
Porches bring people out onto the street to connect with their neighbours, she said.
The changes to the design were encouraging, she said. I do feel heard. I think this kind of a session, it does encourage us to speak out.
Still, not everyone was convinced. Linda Bender said she likes the neighbourhood the way it is. It’s quiet. It’s going to be different. It’s going to be big buildings and a lot more traffic.
The meeting was organized by resident Alfred Rempel, who felt it was important to bring the latest developments on the project directly to the people who will be most affected.
I just felt like we were coming to the end of a very long process and there was something missing, which was the people who live in this neighbourhood, Rempel said. I just thought, ‘Let’s bring it right to the neighbourhood, so that it’s easy for people to come out.
This process is a healthy one, said resident John MacDonald, an architect, who added it was useful to hold the meeting at the actual site of the development. We do that all the time for clients.
If council approves the proposal in August, Polocorp would begin marketing the units next spring, with construction likely to start by spring or summer 2018. Polocorp has been working on plans for the development since 2010.
The latest proposals can be seen on the city’s Land Use Planning News webpage, likely by the end of the week.

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