Langley Times

Plan ‘not grand enough’ for pair of Langley City councillors

A prominent location along Douglas Crescent in downtown Langley City warrants more than just a plain, single-storey building.

That, at least, is the view of two City council members who voted against the discharge of a land use contract which would allow First Capital (Langley Mall) Corporation to construct a 3,000 square foot structure at the northwest corner of the mall parking lot.

At a public hearing earlier in the meeting last month, Bob Turner, of Turner Architecture described the project to council, explaining it will include fronting exposure along all four sides, rather than have one obvious building face.

The intent is to create a ‘street wall’, he said, which would include cedar lattices, brick work and plants/trees to create a more intimate setting.

The structure is designed to house two tenants, one of which would likely be a coffee shop.

Councillors Dave Hall and Ted Schaffer declined to endorse the project, however, saying it is not in keeping with the City’s official Downtown Master Plan, which calls for greater densification — including residential space — in urban areas.

“My objection is to a one-storey building that could have easily accommodated residential above and retail below.

“It’s not grand enough to meet the City’s vision,” said Hall.

“It’s a minimalist attempt to develop what I think is valuable property.”

Why would a developer put a one-storey building on the second most important east-west thoroughfare in the City, Hall wondered.

“I think they’re undervaluing it.

“I can’t support the form and function until I see greater orientation toward Douglas Crescent.”

While Councillor Gayle Martin agreed in principle with Hall’s objections, saying she doesn’t believe the design fits with the community’s vision, she voted in favour of the discharge.

“I’d love to see a storey with residential above, but it’s not in the cards right now,” she said, adding the development may draw new  and larger tenants to the property.

“This is a start.”

Schaffer said only that he agreed with the points made by both Hall and Martin before casting his ‘no’ vote.

In fact, the design is in keeping with the City’s DTMP, said Mayor Peter Fassbender.

That plan calls for single-storey construction along Douglas Crescent, with taller buildings set further back from the road, he told council.

“This kind of orientation is exactly what we said is our vision for the site.”

“I know the City would like to see further densification, with retail and residential and we’re looking toward that,” said Renee St. Germaine of First Capital (Langley Mall) Corporation.

In this case, she said, “the tenant preferred a stand-alone, one-storey building.”

Asked who the tenant is, St. Germaine would only say she is working with a breakfast restaurant.

“Our focus is on bringing something different to the area,” she said.

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