High-density development includes five rental buildings, 10 to 26 floors, on Lancaster Street
Developer proposes moving two houses on the property, originally built by Isaac Shantz in 1873
By Liz Monteiro Record Reporter
KITCHENER — A large-scale “campus-style” development with five buildings, three of them towers — one up to 26 floors — is being proposed for Lancaster Street near Bridgeport Road.
The massive complex is comprised of two mid-rise apartment buildings and three higher-density towers.
The proposed project has one building at 10 storeys, one at 16, two buildings at 20 storeys and one building with 26 floors. Four of the buildings will sit on podiums ranging from four to six storeys.
“It’s pretty big. I can’t think of anything of this scale for the Bridgeport community,” said Kitchener senior planner Andrew Pinnell.
The project is being developed by Corley Developments of London, Ont., in conjunction with Kitchener developer Vive Development as 550 Lancaster Inc.
Currently on the 1.68-hectare (just over four acres) site is a 10-storey residential building with 127 units under construction, which was previously approved by the city.
That building will be on the market next spring, said Mitchell Przewieda of Corley Developments. The remaining proposed four buildings, amounting to 1,198 units, are set for completion by 2030, he said.
“The site is well suited to deliver more housing to our region as it is designated as a mixed-use corridor, providing attainable, purpose-built rental living options for residents,” the developers said in a statement.
“Purpose-built rental projects create a housing option between affordable housing and condo living for the midmarket, and by increasing the supply of midmarket housing, it opens a path for people to move through the housing spectrum,” the developer said.
The property also has two houses located on site. 544-546 Lancaster St., owned by the developers, are rental units.
The two houses were likely built in 1873 by former reeve and entrepreneur Isaac Erb Shantz and “warrant conservation,” says a heritage impact assessment report filed by the developer in the proposal package to the city.
The houses are not designated as heritage but the city has identified them as “being of potential cultural heritage value or interest.”
The report also says the houses have been “significantly altered” since being built in the 1870s.
The property was sold to the Hamel family in 1901 and through marriage became associated with the Rotharmel family. The houses were in the family for 118 years, said the heritage report. The family has since sold the houses.
Although the houses have a long lifespan in the area, “the property does not demonstrate significant contextual value as it does not support the surrounding character of the area,” the report said.
The developer is suggesting the relocation of the two houses off-site but a specific location has not yet been determined.
An interpretive plaque is suggested for the proposed new location which details the history of the buildings and their original location.
Kitchener heritage planner Victoria Grohn said the application is being reviewed by the city. The houses have been identified as having potential cultural heritage value, she said.
The houses, which are considered “twin” buildings being built so close together, are representative of the Gothic Revival architectural style and they are connected to the second wave of settlement of the former village of Bridgeport.
The proposed development requires Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendments, increasing the floor-space ratio to 5.8, increasing the building height, reducing parking and meeting setback requirements.
An arborist report prepared for the developer suggests removing 211 trees, ranging from spruce, pine, birch, maple, walnut and cedar trees. The city says it is still reviewing the arborist report.
Parking, about 800 spots, will be provided in a large underground facility.
The developer initially proposed four buildings with 878 units for the land in the spring of 2019 but recently changed its proposal, adding to the development.
“We believe there is merit in considering the additional building height given the size of the property and proposed location of the proposed highrise building relative to the streetscape and adjacent land uses,” a report written by the developer’s planners states.
The property is just north of the intersection of Lancaster Street West and Bridgeport Road East, west of the Grand River. It is formerly known as the village of Bridgeport.
Deborah Geiger, who lives on Lang Crescent, said she and other neighbours feel like they live in the middle of a construction zone. She had initial concerns with the affordable housing projects being built by Menno Homes behind her on Bridgeport Road but said she supports their efforts to find homes for people who can’t afford it.
But the massive project at Lancaster is not addressing the housing crisis, she said. “What is going on there is pure greed.”
Geiger said she worries the proposed towers will alter the environment, especially for the wildlife.
The five-building development will change the character of Bridgeport with a few thousand people living on the site, she said.
“We don’t have highrises in Bridgeport. None. Zero,” she said. “The traffic alone will be horrendous.”