Shops, condos planned for downtown PoCo fire site

The McAllister project is expected to spur the downtown revitalization strategy for Port Coquitlam.

Three years to the month after a fire ripped through downtown Port Coquitlam and destroyed Martha’s Bakery, a plan to revitalize the McAllister Avenue commercial site is being launched.

But, if approved by council, it could also mean less parking in the core, at least for the short term.

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Today (Thursday), the city formally announced Quarry Rock Developments of Burnaby had submitted a development permit bid to revamp the vacant site and take over a city-owned parking lot to construct a five-storey building with commercial units below and 62 apartments above.

The redevelopment of the combined 33,000-sq. ft. property at 2241-2251 McAllister Ave., between PoCo Bowl and Me ’n Ed's Pizza, would also include a plaza and an extension of the Donald Pathway.

Mayor Brad West said the proposal will be a catalyst to modernize the downtown, for which the city has had a strategy in place since 2016 to bring in new businesses, homes and pedestrian amenities.

“There’s more to come but this is the first,” West told The Tri-City News Wednesday, without giving specifics about land negotiations. “We do have big things in the works for the downtown.”

A call to Quarry Rock was not immediately returned but the company has built a number of residential projects around the Lower Mainland, including Kanaka Hill Townhomes in Maple Ridge, Boardwalk in Surrey and Finch in Squamish, as well as industrial parks. (According to its website, the McAllister mixed-use project will be “harmonious in form and character” with city hall and the provincial courthouse, and will feature 6,000 sq. ft. of retail.)

Laura Lee Richard, PoCo’s planning director, said the application will likely come before committee in the spring; the site is already zoned for commercial use under the current official community plan.

The proposed deal with Quarry Rock also stipulates that, once the building goes up, a part of the commercial space will be transferred to the city to attract restaurants, offices and recreation, for example.

It’s expected the McAllister project will be ready about two years after council approves the plan.

As for the parking lot, the city has entered into a letter of intent to sell the property to Quarry Rock at an undisclosed price. In the meantime, it will look for alternatives to replace the 45 spots that will be lost, including in lots on either side of Wilson Avenue, on the south side of Kingsway Avenue east of Shaughnessy Street, and on the north side of Elgin Avenue west of Shaughnessy Street.

West said the downtown revitalization strategy also calls for the construction of a parkade.

“The city is very much aware of the parking challenges we currently have,” he said. “Without getting into details, [a parkade] is something that we’re working on… My approach on everything is very much rooted in reality and we’ve identified it as a priority to have a parkade in the downtown so that Port Coquitlam residents and families can come and walk around, shop and recreate in the area.”

As for the Shaughnessy Street commercial site that’s now vacant following a 2015 fire at a barber shop and has since been transformed into a parklette by the property owner, Dominion Lending, the city has asked the company to renew the space to be used as a public rest stop for another year.

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Other PoCo news:

A notice of motion by a Port Coquitlam city councillor to look at stocking civic facilities with free menstrual products passed unanimously this week.

Tuesday, city council endorsed Coun. Nancy McCurrach’s call for a feasibility and pilot study to supply free tampons and pads in city washrooms. 

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