The site of the former Springs Cafe on Harrison’s Esplanade Avenue could finally be seeing some development, after Harrison council voted to approve a new development permit.
The permit allows for the construction of a seven-storey mixed-used building at 120 Esplanade Avenue. The building will feature seven commercial units on the ground floor, along with 56 residential units on the remaining six floors.
The residential units will be largely one- and two-bedroom units, with a few two-bedroom units with a den. The building plans also include an underground parking lot, as well as 45 bike stalls.
The development would be one of the tallest in Harrison Hot Springs — the same height as the Harrison Hot Springs Resort next door. The updated zoning bylaw now prohibits buildings taller than 15 metres (the Esplanade development would be 10 metres taller than that), but as the development permit application was submitted in April of last year, the building height is grandfathered in.
“The two tallest will be congregated at the end,” Ken Cossey, director of planning and development for the village, said during council on Monday, Jan. 21. “So there won’t be a disruption when you look at it from a visual perspective.”
Goldwell Developments Incorporated, the company taking on the mixed-use building on Esplanade, has two years to begin construction on the building. Of course, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen.
The company was issued a previous development permit in 2016, but the building hadn’t been started within the two-year time frame and the permit expired.
“When it expired, we basically gave everything back and said ‘When you’re interested we’ll start again,’” Cossey explained. The company applied for a new permit shortly after the old permit expired.
The lot had been vacant for a long time before Goldwell’s 2016 permit application as well.
The site had once been the location of the Springs Cafe, but the building was claimed by fire back in 2005 and never rebuilt. Two years later, in 2007, a proposal came forward for a 10-storey mixed-use building.
That proposal saw criticism from locals, and didn’t get far past the public consultation stage before it stalled and was eventually sold to new investors.
During council on Jan. 21, one resident asked if the new development permit meant something would finally be built on the empty lot. Cossey said he couldn’t guarantee it.
“After this, it becomes a business decision,” he said about the permit. “If they decide they don’t want to go for it, there’s nothing we can do to force them.
“But we are obligated, because there was an application in front of us, to issue the permit in good faith.”
-with files from Erin Knutson