Moncton's planning advisory committee has given the go-ahead for a 12-storey downtown apartment building, which would be among the city's tallest buildings.
Frederic Properties Corp. is proposing the building with 148 rental units at the corner of Botsford and Victoria streets, north of St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church.
"This is the type of development that we want to see," Sarah Anderson, Moncton's senior planner with development planning, told the committee Wednesday evening.
The company's plans involve 170 underground parking spaces, walk-up townhouse units taking up the first and second floors, with the building core then set back. Two-storey penthouse units are planned for the top of the building.
City staff had recommended the committee approve seven variances Anderson called "minor" from city planning bylaws. They include allowing the building to be taller than 19 metres, not providing a set-back on the Wellesley Street side of the building, and reducing the size of balconies.
The committee approved the variances, which don't require city council approval.
Designs indicate the building named St. Bernard Square would rise 38 metres.
A city staff report notes it would be taller than the eight storey 55 Queen building a block away, and the 10-storey Delta Beausejour Hotel, but not as high as the 20-storey Assomption Place tower.
"It is a big building, next to a big building, around the corner from 55 Queen," Frederic Properties Corp. owner Valdo Grandmaison told the committee. "Moncton is getting bigger."
Grandmaison said the aim is to start construction by late September or October and would take two and a half years.
Grandmaison said the timeline relies on the city carrying out previously planned upgrades to old clay water and sewer lines on Victoria and Wellesley streets.
That work is already included in the city's 2021 capital budget, though would require a further council vote to approve the construction contract.
There is likely to be at least one council vote related to the building. Grandmaison indicated the company is working with the city on a financial partnership. Moncton has a development incentive program that provides grants for building projects estimated to be worth more than $10 million.
The building's architect previously told CBC that construction costs are in the range of $35 million.
The building was at times described as "luxury," though no rental rates were mentioned during the meeting. It would replace vacant lots on the site.
No members of the public opposed the plans during the meeting.
Anderson indicated that city planning staff heard from a person on Wednesday, who she didn't name, who was concerned about public consultation about the building plans and that it would dwarf the church south of the proposed building.
Anderson also said the person said "there was no need for more luxury in the downtown."
Brian Corbett told the committee he owns a Victorian home near the proposed building and that he's pro-development in the downtown area.
"I'm pretty excited about this project," Corbett said.
Church supportive, developer says
The building would be separated from the adjacent church by a new private street. Grandmaison said that was to ensure the construction doesn't affect the stability of the stone church and to give access for emergency services.
He said he was in communication with the church and diocese as building plans were developed.
"They're very supportive of this project so I see no issues dealing with the church," Grandmaison said.
No one from the church spoke at the meeting.
Committee members Dale Briggs and Daniel St Louis declared conflicts and didn't take part in the discussion and vote.
The committee also approved plans for a six storey residential building off Highfield Street with a parking garage. Ashford Living, which proposed the building, told the committee it hopes to begin construction this year.