Planning committee approves Barrhaven business park development

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The city’s planning committee on Tuesday approved a local builder’s proposal for a Barrhaven business park that could include developments such as a hotel and a medical facility.

DCR Phoenix is asking the city to amend the zoning for the 11-hectare parcel of land near Hwy. 416 to allow for buildings up to 12 storeys high on a minimum lot area of 0.4 hectares, with maximum lot coverage of 55 per cent. Current requirements call for height limits of three storeys, minimum lot sizes of one hectare and maximum lot coverage of 40 per cent.

The developer’s manager of planning, Mike Boucher, said DCR Phoenix has spoken to “three or four” chains and a couple of independent owners about constructing a hotel at the site, which has been set aside for a “prestige” business park under the South Nepean Secondary Plan.

A “reasonably firm” plan for a medical office is already in the works, and the company also expects to erect an office tower on the land as well, he said.

But until all the necessary changes to zoning bylaws and the secondary plan are approved, all the developer can do is talk to potential partners, Mr. Boucher added.

“We have people that are interested,” he said. “They need to be able to understand what they are able to do there. There’s nothing in the way of a concrete (agreement). We’re right at the beginning of the serious part of this.”

Under current zoning rules, the only practical commercial use for the land is for larger warehouse-type facilities, but those type of buildings aren’t in DCR Phoenix’s long-term plans for the property, he said.

The company has also agreed to create a nine-metre-wide landscaped berm to act as a buffer between the business park and nearby homes to the north, he said, after the Orchard Estate and Cedarview community associations expressed concerns about building density and traffic.

DCR Phoenix is also looking at including some residential development at the site, but has to await the results of the city’s Employment Land Study before property can be appropriately rezoned, Mr. Boucher said.

Pending council approval of the project, the land could be subdivided and deals inked with partners within “a few months,” he said, adding work on the berm could begin later this year.

Tuesday’s decision marks the latest chapter in a decade-long saga.

Since 2006, DCR Phoenix has taken several proposals – including rezoning the property for residential purposes, building a distribution centre for Frito Lay Canada and constructing a 70,000-square-foot Salvation Army church – to city hall, but all were rejected or fell through.

If given the go-ahead from council, the new zoning would also allow for other uses at the site, including a broadcasting station, a drive-through bank, a production studio, a service and repair shop and a convenience store.