Port Moody office tower gains approval

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The lack of public art attached to a proposed office tower drew some concern from Port Moody councillors.

Council approved a development authorization Tuesday night that would allow Onni Development to construct a nine-storey office tower at 220 Brew St. in Suter Brook.

Coun. Gerry Nuttall wanted to defer approval until the developers were able to work out a public art component of the project with city staff.

"Nobody wants to slow the project down, we just want to pause it for a second to take a look at the opportunities for public art," said Nuttall, whose motion was defeated with only councillors Rick Glumac and Zoe Royer in support.

But Coun. Diana Dilworth pointed out that there is public art as well as a large performance space in the Suter Brook complex, none of it tied to a specific building.

"To say there is a lack of public art is unfair to this applicant," she said.

Mayor Mike Clay was able to iron out a compromise allowing the development to move ahead while city staff sit down with the developers to see if there is an opportunity to include additional public art. He said Onni has already made voluntary contributions when the original plan for the seven parcels in Suter Brook was approved.

"They pre-paid a lot of those contributions so we could build a rec centre," said Clay. "They've paid us close to $1 million to relocate our works yard."

Onni development manager Brendan Yee said the company hopes to have a building permit in place within the next couple of months, with construction able to begin any time after that.

"We've got our leasing department working on some deals and we're going to try and fill that space up," said Yee, adding that while it is still in the preliminary stages  a day care group has expressed interest in the location.

A hotel had originally been proposed for the site but Yee said that is no longer seen as economically viable.

While some on council expressed disappointment in the loss of the planned hotel, the mayor sees the 164,000 square-foot commercial/office complex filling a need for the community.

"When Onni built the office building that they have there now, the five or six-storey one, there was a lot of uncertainty. It took a long time to fill that building up but it's 100% full now. We're 100% full across the street, there's a demand for office space in Port Moody," said Clay, adding it provides Port Moody residents with the option to stay in the community for work.

"And the people coming in to work there, they go for lunch, they support our local businesses and to me these things are win-win."


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