Developer drops amenities for more landscaping
Panoramic Properties is making big changes to its plans to redevelop the former St. Joseph’s Health Centre into a major condominium development.
Under a revised plan that will go to the city’s planning committee Oct. 22, Panoramic has eliminated the amenities it had planned for the Paris Street site — a wellness centre and a restaurant — and increased the number of residential units on the site to 210 from 190. That decision will significantly reduce traffic flow around the site, a city staff report concludes.
While it still plans to demolish the Mason building, the site will now be landscaped, rather than host a new building, and will include an 11-space parking lot.
The southern section of the former hospital will be demolished and be replaced, going from a four-story to an eight-story structure housing 85 residential units. Plans to build a seven-story parking garage have also been scrapped. Instead, Panoramic wants to build a three-story garage underneath the new building. In total, there will be 332 parking spaces underground and 20 on the surface.
With the changes, the total amount of property set aside for landscaping increases to 47 per cent of the 4.5-acre property, compared with 24.3 per cent in the original proposal. Plans for landscaping include a new bike path and walkway, which would link up with existing paths in Bell Park. The north site of the property near Facer Street would get new trees, a mix of pine, oak, spruce, maple and birch.
The revised plan puts the development into the category of high-density residential, a use city planners say is appropriate for the former hospital area.
Before any formal approval will be given, Panoramic will have to submit a plan to ensure ... runoff from the site won’t leach into Ramsey Lake...
Before any formal approval will be given, Panoramic will have to submit a plan to ensure it can deal with stormwater, and that runoff from the site won’t leach into Ramsey Lake and affect water quality.
The new structure on the south wing of the hospital will create a 62-foot space between the old building and the new one. That will allow a view of Ramsey Lake that was blocked by the old hospital, the staff report said, without creating new visual obstructions.
While recommending the plan be approved, planning staff does have a number of changes it wants first. They include a traffic island at the main entrance to the building on Paris Street; upgrades to Facer Street to bring it up to urban standard, including new sidewalks; and, the complete rebuilding of sidewalks along Paris Street in front of the development and the Boland Street entrance.
Despite the changes, many people are still opposed to the condominium development at the former hospital. Dozens of letters objecting to the plan have been filed with the city. Objections range from minor issues that likely could be dealt with — for example, concerns about traffic flow — to people who continue to insist the property is on Bell Park land.
That’s an issue staff laid to rest in the spring. Eric Taylor, the city’s manager of development services, gave a detailed history of the Bell Park covenant and the lands surrounding it.
He said Bell Park was given to the city in 1926, totaling about 145 acres, with the condition it be used only as parkland for residents to enjoy. The Sisters of St. Joseph acquired the northern half of the hospital property — about seven acres - from the Stafford family in 1944, Taylor said. The Bell family gave the southern portion of where the hospital now sits to the city in 1944, who then gave the land to the sisters in 1945 to build the hospital.