Burnaby community 'jumping for joy' at redevelopment plans

In some neighbourhoods, redevelopment can leave people wistful for times gone by.

Not at the northwest corner of Kingsway and Gilley Avenue.

That's where two properties, including the notorious Intercity Motel, are being proposed for a new residential and commercial development.

"The community is hearing that it's going to be redeveloped and the community is jumping for joy," said Diane Gillis, president of the Kingsway-Imperial Neighbourhood Association (KINA).

"Oh yes, it's news in the 'hood."

On Monday, Burnaby council authorized city staff to work with the current owner of 6205 and 6255 Kingsway, Kevin Rakhra, on a suitable development plan for the site, which would then be the subject of a rezoning application.

The developer is proposing to build a four-storey, mixed-use project with commercial on the ground floor and three storeys of residential on top, according to a city staff report. Surface parking would serve the commercial operations, while underground parking would be built for the residents and their visitors.

A preliminary plan would see vehicle access from Gilley Avenue and the back lane, while Kingsway would only be for commercial loading and unloading.

To meet the city's servicing requirements, the developer would also pay for street improvements, including a new sidewalk on Kingsway and Gilley, with concrete boulevards, street trees, street lights and pedestrian lighting across the development's frontage.

While 6255 Kingsway is currently home to a Church's Chicken, a Pizza Hut and a drycleaner, 6205 is the site of the Intercity Motel, which has had ongoing issues with prostitution and other crime.

"Since KINA's been formed in 2005, the Intercity's been an ongoing concern despite the concentrated efforts of both the RCMP and the City of Burnaby," said Gillis, who  noted the motel is also near Windsor elementary.

The property was sold sometime in the past year, she said, but the motel continues to operate while it awaits redevelopment.

"When I started raising concerns [about the neighbourhood] seven years ago, I never thought that we'd move at this speed. It might seem glacial to some people, but you cannot change things overnight and it didn't just deteriorate overnight. This is a positive."

The location of the project is at the edge of the Royal Oak Urban Village Plan area, which adds further significance to the development site as a potential gateway to the community, she added.

"It'll be a nice cornerstone seeing that developed."

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