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Proposed commercial building could bring 'vitality' to Port Moody's main drag

But the project could mean the demise of one of Port Moody's oldest red oak trees.
A rendering of a proposed commercial building on St. Johns Street that would feature restaurants on the top two floors.

A six-story commercial building being proposed for two lots on St Johns Street currently occupied by older single-family homes would provide some much needed vitality along the busy corridor through Port Moody.

But its design with mostly glass on the north and south sides, including an atrium that runs the full height of the building, could turn it into a greenhouse on sunny days.

It also might make it hard for the structure to meet provincial regulations for energy efficiency, said Coun. Samantha Agtarap during an early look at the project in a recent meeting of council's city initiatives and planning committee.

The building, to be located on the south side of St Johns just east of the Moody Street intersection, is designed by Mara + Natha Architects.

It would be comprised of two floors of commercial spaces, two floors of offices and topped by two floors that could accommodate two restaurants that would offer expansive views across the Burrard Inlet to Port Moody's north shore.

Wesley Woo, the city's assistant manager of planning, said staff flagged several concerns about the proposal, including the position of loading areas in the back along St. Andrews Street, which is designated an active transportation corridor to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists, as well as the building’s relationship to neighbouring structures that are no more than two or three storeys.

Woo said a red oak tree — one of the oldest in Port Moody — might also have to be removed to accommodate construction.

Several councillors said they'd like to see the developer make a more concerted effort to save the old tree as well as plant additional trees along the front of the building to make the streetscape more hospitable, especially as that section of St. Johns is soon to be enhanced with a new multi-use path.

"I'm hoping there will be a little more green added to that stretch," Coun. Callan Morrison said.

"I'd like the building to be a little less edge-to-edge and give it more green space."

Coun. Kyla Knowles agreed the project's design seems to overwhelm its property but, she acknowledged, "It's a unique-looking building."

Coun. Amy Lubik said she liked the proposal's mix of uses and the restaurants "will add to the nightlife in Port Moody."

Coun. Diana Dilworth also praised the addition of a commercial and office-oriented project to the mix of new developments being proposed for Port Moody's main drag, adding it will add to its liveliness.

"We are building for the future and not what’s there today."

The project's proponents will now be able to take the comments from council and staff into consideration prior to formally advancing their application for the rezoning that would be required for it to proceed.

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