If a rezoning application is approved, Nanaimo could see the first sign of a long-awaited redevelopment of the former site of the Howard Johnson Harborside Hotel and surrounding properties.
Oakwood Park Estates submitted an application on July 28 for the rezoning of mid-density residential properties into a new comprehensive development area to create a mixed-use residential, commercial and hospitality development, according to city records.
The Howard Johnson Hotel closed in 2018 and the site has already been the subject of redevelopment proposals, including a conference center and multiplex sports facility.
The Millstone River project proposed in application documents prepared by D’Ambrosio Architecture and Urbanism, of Victoria, will comprise 2.9 hectares containing five properties and includes a 120-room hotel with restaurant and conference facilities, 698 residential units, 6,000 square feet of commercial space and retail space and park.
The new housing will “complement the Mill Street neighborhood” and link it to Comox Road and Wallace Street, the proposal states.
The hotel would consist of a single 16-story tower, intended to serve as a “landmark” at the intersection of Terminal Avenue and Comox Street. Most of the other project buildings in the proposal will be five- and six-story mid-rise structures, including townhouses, and comparable in density to buildings already on Mill and Prideaux streets, depending on the application.
The rezoning is the first step in a process that could take several months or more and would involve approval from city staff, council and public engagement.
“Typically we wait about eight to 12 months for a rezoning approval of this scale. It’s quite a large scale and a large site,” said Lainya Rowett, the current city planning manager.
The process, she said, normally includes a staff review and consultation with other city departments and outside agencies such as the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure for input and feedback.
“During this referral process, we may need additional information from the applicant, so you can certainly understand that there may be some back and forth to resolve what the proposed zoning for the site will be and the proposed use and density and just understand the feasibility. of the proposed use and density,” Rowett said.
She described the site as a gateway to downtown that has been of interest to the community for several years.
“It’s exciting to see this kind of development and, not just this kind of development, but this kind of interest in the heart of our city and practically on the doorstep of our waterfront,” she said.