Modern condo could replace derelict site in Kitchener

KITCHENER — A developer wants to put up a six-storey metal and concrete residential building across from Victoria Park on a site that has sat vacant or derelict for a number of years.

The developer, Vive Development Corp., is proposing a six-storey building for the site at 51 David St. , directly across from Victoria Park, opposite the public washrooms and the Jubilee Drive parking lot.

The building would be stepped back further from the street on the fourth, fifth and sixth storeys, and would have 10 one-bedroom and 20 two-bedroom units and 24 underground parking spots.

“We are unsure of whether the building will be rental or condo tenure,” said developer Stephen Litt in an email. “At this point we are focused on the design of a world-class building in Kitchener’s crown jewel of Victoria Park.”

The building would be quite modern, made of concrete, steel and glass, with charcoal and grey colours. The heritage impact study carried out by the developer’s consultant determined the modern style won’t affect the heritage character of the neighbourhood.

“There’s so many contemporary buildings there, I think there’s less of a need to include more natural materials” such as wood and brick, Vanessa Hicks, a heritage planner with MHBC, told the city’s heritage committee this week. On one side of the proposed development is a four-storey multi-residential building in a more traditional red-brick style, while on the other there is a 14-storey concrete highrise.

The heritage committee didn’t raise any major issues or concerns with the design, although a couple of members appeared skeptical.

“To me it looks like a large brick in the middle of a parking lot,” said Steve Strohack, adding that he thought the design was attractive.

Kim Huxted questioned the modern look of the building. “It’s beautiful, but it’s a very different design,” Huxted said. “It doesn’t complement the building to the left of it as well as it could, or the other houses on David Street.” She pointed out that another nearby development, Barra on Queen, used red brick in its design in an effort to blend in with the traditional brick homes in the area.

But Coun. Bil Ioannidis said he thought heritage districts can have a mix of modern and old, so long as the designs are attractive. “I know some other contemporary buildings were approved on Ahrens. I think it’s the wave of the future and I think it’s the way cities are being built today within heritage districts.”

The site has been vacant since July 2014, when two derelict homes were demolished. The homes had been notorious eyesores and crack houses for years, then enjoyed a brief moment of fame in May 2014, when one house was painted completely white, the other completely black as a temporary art installation in a downtown art festival. , Twitter: @ThompsonRecord