At the March 23, 2021, Planning Committee meeting, staff recommended approval of a 30 unit, 6-storey purpose-built student residential building with ground-floor retail space at King St West and Paradise Road North in Westdale. As a member of the Planning Committee, I voted in favour of the application, as did all Committee members.
I greatly appreciate the input of the residents and small business owners who took the time to do their homework and engage on this file. Please know that I read every email and made notes to identify key concerns. The comments were thoughtful and rooted in a commitment to the well-being of the neighbourhood.
Those opposed to the application believed the building height was too tall and expressed worry that 6-storeys would set a precedent for King Street West in Westdale.
There were also concerns with pedestrian safety due to vehicle traffic generated by the proposal. Others suggested that Westdale didn't need additional student housing, and if development were to occur, they would prefer a residence for seniors or young families.
In my view, the revised development is an improvement from the original 2019 submission and went a long way in addressing many of the neighbourhood concerns.
The development will offer 20 parking spaces, with 11 spots at ground level and 9 underground. There will be 78 dedicated long-term and 10 short term bicycle parking on-site, and the parcel is adjacent to transit routes on King Street West. The original 2019 application only provided 13 parking spots.
The development provides stepbacks at the fifth and sixth floors. A building stepback is an architectural design feature usually applied to the upper storey of a development. Just as the name suggests, a stepback sees the building further pulled in toward the centre of the property. Stepbacks help reduce the scale of a building while emphasizing the lower elements of a structure. Stepbacks create a more human scale streetwall and reduce overlook and shadow impacts on adjacent properties.
The building design does comply with the Shadow Impact guidelines (Sec 4.12) set out by the City. Transportation Planning staff were satisfied that the trips generated by the new development will have a minimal effect on the neighbouring road network.
The applicant eliminated the rooftop amenity space and the fifth-floor terrace in the original design to address neighbourhood concerns with privacy and overlook.
The concept includes brick material for the bottom four floors, consistent with neighbouring buildings. (See 802 King St W example)
Paradise Road and King Street West's intersection is the terminus for the King Street West Primary Corridor. Hamilton's Urban Official Plan states that these corridors provide for a range of densities and function as commercial spines throughout the city. The goal is to provide for greater density along the corridors as opposed to within neighbourhoods. City staff concluded that the proposal was consistent with the Province’s Growth Plan which aims to provide for more efficient use of land and to focus growth in locations with existing transit.
In terms of housing people other than students, zoning by-laws do not regulate a development's residential component's end-user. It is my hope that this kind of purpose-built student residence will ease the pressure on single-family homes serving as student residences.
I know that this decision will not please everyone, particularly those living near the development. I believe that the revised proposal was an improvement to the original submission and to the largely vacant lot that exists now. City planning staff determined that the development represented a compatible form of intensification as it was along a primary corridor in proximity to transit, services, parks and recreation facilities.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.