Planning Committee OKs Barra Castle Development

  • 09/15/16
  • |          Kitchener

KITCHENER — A long-planned development on the site of the old Barra Castle got the green light this week from Kitchener’s planning committee.

The proposal earned praised from a number of city councillors, who said the project was a great example of how developers, city planners and the residents already living in a neighbourhood can shape a development.

“I think it’s a good example where all the parties approached it with an open mind,” said planning chair Coun. Paul Singh.

The committee approved zoning changes that will allow construction of a seven-storey, 107-unit condominium fronting onto Queen Street, and seven townhouses and semi-detached homes along Benton, which is in a residential area of single-family homes. That decision must still be ratified by council.

Local developers Paul and Michael Puopolo, and their company Polocorp, have been working on plans since 2010 for the property, which consists of the old Barra site at 393-411 Queen St. S., as well as four house lots at 168-180 Benton St. that back onto the Barra land.

The committee unanimously supported the proposal, saying it fit in with plans to encourage more intensive residential development near the LRT line, set to begin running in 2018.

“I think we’ve come to a good compromise,” said Michael Puopolo in an interview. “We’ve changed the plan because of their (residents’) comments, and I think we’ve come to a good balance between what the city wanted to accomplish, what we wanted to see and what the residents wanted.”

The proposal addresses several city policies to encourage growth along busier streets and near transit, while still preserving older neighbourhoods, said city planner Garett Stevenson.

Planning staff, the developer and the neighbourhood met several times to refine the proposal.

The project started off with a modern-looking building and parking and garages that fronted onto Benton, and onto the established homes in the neighbourhood.

After feedback from residents, the townhouses and semi-detached home plans now feature front porches, pitched roofs and bay windows, and most have parking away from the street.

“I think the end result is a much better building that fits in with the character of the neighbourhood,” Stevenson said.

Jane Pellar spoke on behalf of residents at Monday’s planning meeting, and persuaded councillors to ensure the zoning bylaw will limit the number of driveways on Benton.

Construction will likely start by spring or summer 2018, with occupancy in summer or fall 2019, Puopolo said.

The development is on the site of Barra Castle, a quirky home built in 1930 to mimic a Russian castle. It was demolished in 2010 when the building was deemed to be too badly damaged to feasibly repair.

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