Variances approved for Bridgewater development at Riviera waterfront site

Bridgewater Lakeshore and Elizabeth | Burlington waterfrontThe Bridgewater project for a 22 storey condo, 7 storey condo and 7 storey hotel on the South Side of Lakeshore Road at the foot of Elizabeth St in downtown Burlington received approval Mon. Nov. 12 from the Committee of Adjustment for 15 requested variances. They include one additional storey on the hotel, a reduction in retail from 2750 m2 to 1025 m2 (essentially removing the retail facing Old Lakeshore Road, but retaining it along Lakeshore Road), and a corresponding reduction in 120 parking spaces associated with the retail uses. There has been an increase in parking for the residential units, from 188 to 231 spaces.

The Committee of Adjustment also imposed several conditions, specifically:

• Along Lakeshore Road, to maintain the “highest level of architectural design,” including a hotel entrance on Lakeshore Road that successfully creates a main focal point for the building at street level;

• To obtain a permit through the site plan process from Conservation Halton, as the project is along a shoreline regulated by Conservation Halton; and

• Obtain a zoning certificate and building permit within three years.

On Nov. 29, the applicant obtained a 2-year building permit from Conservation Halton.

Meantime, the site is being cleared, with the recent demolition of the Riviera Hotel.

Bridgewater expect to file a site plan application shortly. Construction is expected to start late in 2013 or early 2014.

My Take: The height and density of this project were approved in 2006, and though my preference is not to put tall buildings along the shoreline, there are aspects of this project that enhance public access to the waterfront, including a public waterfront walkway and central piazza open to the public. The retail along Lakeshore Rd. will enhance the commercial vibrancy of the downtown and draw shoppers east of Brant to discover the many businesses along our side streets. I’ve received several calls from residents and businesses looking to purchase space in the new buildings. I’ve also heard from residents expressing concerns about the reduced commercial parking. The project is located within the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) boundaries, so is not required to provide any commercial parking. Instead, businesses in the BDBA boundaries pay a levy to build future parking supply, even if they have onsite commercial parking, as this project will. The financing and timing of a future parking structure is currently being studied by a consultant for the city, with a report expected in 2013.

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