Five-storey condo plan is revived

Marker Group takes over the McLarty Furniture property in Sidney

A new builder has resurrected plans for a five-storey condo structure in downtown Sidney.

Grant Rogers of The Marker Group says his plan for the site of the former McLarty Furniture building on Third Street, is similar to those of the property’s previous owner — with a few notable changes.

While the building will still be five storeys, Rogers said it will be up to two feet shorter due to the new configuration of ground floor commercial space.

Instead of 28 units in the original plan, this project will have 25 — three units will be removed from the ground floor space to make room for more parking.

There will be no underground parking in the new design. Rogers said the site lies on top of blue clay, which would make underground parking economically unrealistic.

“Putting in underground parking in a best case situation would cost an additional $35,000 per condo unit,” he explained.

With units expected to sell for between $320,000 and into the high-$400,000 range, Rogers said above-ground parking reduces the over unit price to the market.

He added another change includes modifying the layout of the units to meet the property’s target market — people looking to downsize.

The ground floor area is unique, Rogers explained, in that the commercial space will have live-in room. That means a business owner could have their shop out front and their apartment in the back.

“Everyone is struggling with commercial on the side streets,” Rogers said. “We didn’t want to create something that would exacerbate that problem, but not leave the building completely dead.”

Sidney town councillor Steve Price said the proposal has been reviewed by council and forwarded on to their Advisory Planning Commission (APC) for its recommendations.

“Council said they saw merit (in the proposal),” Price added, saying they saw a staff report on it at their July 14 meeting.

“For myself, I think it’s a good project and this one looks just as nice as (the first proposal).”

The site was initially being redeveloped by Pelorus Development Corp. In April 2013, council noted funding had fallen through and the project stalled. The land was later sold to The Marker Group.

“The big thing with this council,” Price continued, “is that downtown buildings are going in where they need to be, to increase density and stimulate the Town.”

Mayor Larry Cross said while it’s difficult to judge how councillors feel about the project, in general he sad it meets the Town’s objectives on density in the downtown core.

“The units here are also not high-end (referring to cost),” Cross added, “but are more affordable than many others.”

Cross said council will wait until around Aug. 14 for the APC is give its comments and recommendations, after which council will discuss its merits. He added other issues might come up, including reaction from the neighbours.

In 2012 when the original plan was being debated, nearby residents had spoken against the building’s height.

Rogers said if the approvals process at the municipality goes smoothly, the project could be given the green light as early as mid-August. If so, he said construction could begin in November. That timeline could change to the following spring, he continued, depending on the process and fall weather.


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