816 Government Street

Posted on April 10th, 2015 · Posted in Land Use, Letters

April 10, 2015

Re: 816 Government Street – Cielo Properties Inc. – Rezoning, Development Permit and Heritage Alteration Permit Review

Dear Mayor Helps and Council,

The DRA LUC has reviewed the drawings for the proposed building and hosted a CALUC meeting on 8 May 2014 for the above-mentioned application. Twenty people registered their attendance at the door. The presentation was conducted by Mr. Paul Merrick, Architect and Mr. Stan Sipos of Cielo Properties.

Based on the information presented by the applicant the purpose of the Rezoning is to create a new market condominium building (since amended to office building) with ground floor commercial space fronting Government, Wharf and Courtney Streets and also rehabilitate the existing heritage building on the site to create market condominiums and ground floor retail. The building would have an underground parking structure with the entry from Courtney Street. The project has been significantly amended since the original proposal that was introduced at the CALUC public meeting.

Comments and concerns raised at the Land Use Committee meeting and by members are as follows;
• Several comments have been made regarding the height of the buildings and the configuration of additional stories on the heritage building as originally proposed. Since that time, the height has been reduced and the additional stories have been reconfigured on the heritage building, which is commendable.
• Concerns remain regarding the extent of the street wall along Government Street and potential for some aesthetic awkwardness for the angled portion at the southeast corner. While the proposed building is not as tall as the Belmont Building opposite, it does occupy the entire block and is significantly taller and longer than the existing building proposed to be demolished. This is not typical of other existing building frontages along Government Street and may create a visual incongruity.
• It is commendable that the proposed stone cladding materials are of a high quality; recognizing the prominent location the building is situated adjacent to the Empress Hotel and the Legislative Buildings. It would be highly recommended that the use of these quality materials also extend to the upper storeys as the proposed use of sheet metal cladding does not complement the neighbouring properties.
• While the committee was generally pleased with the articulation of the façade and quality of the cladding, there were concerns from several members that the Government façade lacks detail on the upper central portion and appears somewhat weak and out of context. Conversely, the north and south corners have proposed overhangs and cornices which provide visual and contextual interest.
• There are many alterations proposed for the Heritage façade. It is understood that the building presents several challenges in order to be converted to a residential use. However there are concerns whether all of the many proposed alterations are architecturally/historically appropriate for a heritage building of this calibre and whether the number of these alterations can be reduced. Regardless, we trust that the appropriate procedures will be required and monitored by staff and the appropriate contractors will be retained to execute this special work.
• The location of security gating for the Government Street entry is also a concern. Entry doors at the street may provide better security unless it is proposed that the security gate be closed at all times outside of office hours. It is also recommended that the security gate be of high quality both of material and aesthetic.

The DRA generally supports this proposal but recommends that due to its most prominent location on the Inner Harbour that all efforts be made to “get it right”. It will be the attention to detail and quality of the materials and execution that will make this project worthy of this prominent location.

Sincerely,

Ian Sutherland
Chair Land Use Committee
Downtown Residents Association

cc COV Planning

(pdf version of letter)