‘Catalyst for revitalization’: HIP Development’s Barrie Central project crosses major hurdle

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A project that’s expected to jump start the local economic recovery and change the face of downtown Barrie cleared one of its final hurdles Monday night.

Waterloo-based HIP Development has planned a multi-use development at the former site of Barrie Central Collegiate and neighbouring Prince of Wales elementary school. The properties include 34-50 Bradford St., and a portion of 125 Dunlop St. W.

HIP’s project includes 600 rental apartments in three buildings, including two 20-storey towers and a 10-storey structure. City council approved a zoning-bylaw amendment on Monday.

“We will be focusing in the weeks to come on continuing to move forward with the planning and building processes in the city,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “This is one of the many steps we can take toward supporting the economic recovery. We want to proceed with the business of council, particularly those items that can help support our economy.”

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While the site plan will come up for approval at a later date, Monday’s decision is a major milestone on for the eventual construction of 600 residential units on the property, along with a new three-storey, 77,000-square-foot YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka building.

Councillors are calling the development a “critical-mass” project that has the potential to impact to the neighbourhood around it.

“It will be the catalyst for revitalization in our (downtown’s) west end on Dunlop Street,” Councillor Sergio Morales said.

“This could be a building that, decades from now, people will look back at this council and staff and the developer involved and say they got it right,” Morales added.

The properties were once home to a residential building, Barrie Central, Prince of Wales School and Red Storey Field. HIP’s plan includes three residential buildings ranging between 10 and 20 storeys. A parking structure would provide 822 parking spaces and the plan would extend Simcoe Street.

“This is a really important piece of land,” Councillor Clare Riepma said. “There are a number of outstanding items, in terms of site design, that need to be resolved.”

Close to $14 million in development-charge revenue would be generated from the development.

It has a “variety of residential forms,” including live/work units, providing “a compact form of development that minimizes its climate-change footprint and is designed with a pedestrian-oriented focus that connects to a municipal sidewalk,” development services director Michelle Banfield said in a report to council.

“The proposal is technically sound,” she said. “Approval of this mixed-use development in the city’s urban growth centre provides for a compact form of development that maximizes the use of the subject lands, utilizes existing services and infrastructure, supports public transit and would support diverse and safe neighbourhoods.”

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