Corp Comm Connects

Clock Tower developer resubmits apartment plan
Feb. 18, 2016
Chris Simon  

We’ve got a better picture of exactly what might be in store for the Main Street clock tower redevelopment.

Forrest Group submitted an amended zoning bylaw application for the site, which calls for the construction of a 165-unit, seven-storey apartment complex near the Main and Park Avenue intersection, to the Town of Newmarket Feb. 2. If the proposal were constructed as presented, it would include five ground-floor retail commercial units fronting Main.

The building would otherwise consist entirely of rental apartments of up to two bedrooms in size and ranging between 400 and 900 square feet. Some of the suites could be two storeys.

“It’s an even height now on both Main and Park frontage,” town development and infrastructure services commissioner Peter Noehammer said. “Main is retaining the two storeys of commercial buildings and stepping back and going up from there a further four storeys. The seventh storey is a glass, stepped-back level as well. There is some stepping back on Main to try to retain the roofline. The Park frontage is more uniform; it goes up six storeys and has the one level of glass stepping back from there to take it to seven. It’s an attempt to try to address comments (from the public) and have a better chance of succeeding.”

There would also be underground parking for tenants and visitors.

However, the clock tower proposal is one of the town’s most controversial redevelopment projects and it has already drawn the ire of an advocacy groups for downtown. The Main Street District Business Improvement Area’s board of management passed a resolution opposing the redevelopment late last year.

In the motion, the BIA notes it only supports “responsible development” that respects the three-storey height limitation permitted in the Downtown Newmarket Heritage Business District under the Heritage Act. It also formally “objects to and opposes” a proposed transfer or swap of town-owned heritage land — specifically, the land on or below the Market Square parking block — for the construction of an underground parking lot.

The BIA charges the construction of an underground parking lot would cause the loss of public parking spaces in the downtown for a lengthy period, with “catastrophic effects” on member businesses.

Newmarket’s heritage advisory committee also asked council to deny the application, while several residents have publicly opposed the project because of parking, population intensification and community ambiance issues.

The latest clock tower proposal would still likely require an agreement between the town and the developer to allow for the underground construction, Noehammer said.

“The parking garage does extend into part of the Market Square area; I would imagine at some point, to construct that garage, there will have to be an agreement with the town struck to encroach into that area,” he said. “With respect to maintaining the character of Main, that was important as well. We are cognizant of the interest residents have. We want to make sure it’s a sound development proposal that has good bones, in terms of planning rationale, architecture, urban design and is something that will compliment the downtown area.”

Forrest Group had previously sought the construction of a 150-unit condominium building with 10 retail commercial units. At that time, the developer proposed a three-storey complex on Main, with nine storeys constructed along Park.

“That’s probably the most significant difference people will see between the previous and current (applications),” Noehammer said. “The height is more uniform looking. It does retain the clock tower and adjacent structures.”

A report on the proposal will likely be presented to the town’s committee of the whole in April or May. It will include plans for further public consultation on the proposal, he said.

While the documents are not available through the town’s website, they can be viewed at the Newmarket Town Hall, located at 395 Mulock Dr.