With construction set to begin shortly on a long-awaited mixed-use development in Rainbow, 49 residential units are expected to be available for occupancy in fall of 2014, confirmed developer Sam Brovender.
The three-building proposal will allow for approximately 2,000 square metres of commercial floor space at ground level and over 4,000 sq. m. of residential floor area on the upper levels. Four of the 49 resident-restricted units, which will become part of the Whistler Housing Authority’s inventory, will be offered to seniors first. These units are slightly larger with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a flex room.
“From our perspective we welcome any developer that gives consideration to seniors. I think it’s a fantastic step forward and we’re looking forward to seeing how that plays out,” said Sue Lawther, president of Whistler’s Mature Action Community.
There will also be six two-level townhouse units with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a den. The remaining units will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. All units will have a private patio or deck, large storage areas and access to underground parking.
The project is intended to serve as a community hub for residents of Rainbow and surrounding neighbourhoods, with zoning potential for commercial uses such as a restaurant, café, pharmacy and doctor’s office. Loblaws confirmed in March that they’ve leased space in the site’s middle building for a full-service grocery store, expected to open in late 2014. The site will also be home to a major branded service station operated by a Whistler local with a gas bar, small convenience store and electric charging stations on hand.
“I think it’s going to be great not only for the 49 units who live there, but the entire Rainbow community and adjacent neighbourhoods,” Brovender said. “Hopefully it’ll be a good gathering spot with amenities to keep (residents) walking to all their daily needs instead of having to drive.”
The developers’ landscape design is meant to promote the site as a focal meeting point for the community, with ample outdoor space for residents and shoppers. There are also plans for a municipal park located adjacent to the project.
Construction is set to begin “within the next two weeks,” said Brovender, following final municipal staff review of the proponent’s development permit, and comes more than five years after the project’s initial approval from council.
Rainbow Canuck Properties Ltd. took ownership of the site in 2010 and has worked hard to address concerns from municipal staff and the RMOW’s Advisory Design Panel, which expressed issues with the proposed massing of buildings and pedestrian circulation at the site in December. A second meeting in January satisfied major concerns of the panel, which asked the proponent to work with staff on several small issues around the site’s landscape, outdoor play area and building form. Council gave the final thumbs-up to the project in March.
“We’ve been through numerous revisions and ongoing refinement and I think we’ve come up with an excellent overall plan for a mixed-use site of commercial and residential,” Brovender said, who went on to detail some of the changes made to address traffic and pedestrian circulation.
“There’s great access from the adjacent Parking Lot 8 that comes down through the middle of the project leading down to the commercial plaza. There’s also a sidewalk at the western edge leading from the Valley Trail to connect to Bear Paw Trail on the sidewalk into the project. There’s also pedestrian access from the bottom of Crazy Canuck (Drive), and vehicle traffic enters off of Bear Paw into the commercial plaza and goes into the underground with gated access for residents.”
The three buildings slated for Rainbow Plaza will be constructed following Built Green Gold standards, promoting energy-efficient and environmentally responsible homes.