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Proposed development for Guelph Avenue inches closer to approval

The project that has been in process for several years would see Polocorp Inc. build 185 residential units on the Forbes House property, but no apartment buildings
A proposed development that will bring 185 residential units to Cambridge's Hespeler area.

A Kitchener developer hopes to close the loop on some last steps so it can begin building 185 residential units on property it owns on Guelph Avenue.

Polocorp Inc. went through several rounds of public consultation and talks with the city and the region to develop a draft subdivision plan that presents a balanced approach keeping in mind the voices of all parties involved, said Mike Puopolo, chief operating officer for the developer.

"The process has been long, to say the least, but it is an ongoing process with the city, the region and the neighbourhood," he said, giving background on the development plans that first came forward over three years ago.

"We've had various productive neighbourhood meetings, which we've done offline from the public realm. We've engaged a few of the residents in the nearby area on Guelph and Shaw avenues and other nearby streets to get their input on the development and the form of the development." 

An upcoming council meeting agenda contains three staff reports seeking council approval for a heritage designation for the historical Forbes House, which is on the 12.96 acre property, which Polocorp Inc. wants to develop.

Puopolo said they're seeking rezoning of the subject lands and draft plan approval for a subdivision that will contain 37 single detached dwellings, 12 townhouse dwellings, and up to 132 stacked townhouse dwelling units.

The plan has been changed from the earlier submission, which sought rezoning permission to build up to 210 units, a majority of which would have been in a 12-storey apartment building, he noted.

There has been concerns from area residents previously about the density of the project and the loss of the historic property. Some of the objections were in regards to an earlier plan that called for 12 storey apartment buildings.

In addition, Puopolo said, they're seeking council's approval for to designate Forbes House as a property of cultural heritage value under the Ontario Heritage Act.

The staff report also described other conservation actions proposed by the developer.

Puopolo said they're also seeking council approval to relocate two stone structures, a rubble wall and a stone tower, to a city-owned property. 

"We're relocating the ruins, in conjunction with the City of Cambridge, to Jacob's Landing. We're in negotiations with the city in terms of what the use will be," he said.

A future staff report will decide the location to where the stone tower will find its new home.

The relocations will cost Polocorp Inc. around $350,000, said Puopolo.

"Subject to council approval and appeal period expiring without any objections raised by anyone, we will start working on the detailed design," he said. "We have a general design for the site, but we will go into more detailed engineering design on how we connect the roads and services. Hopefully, we will be shovels in the ground by winter or late fall."

The report states, "The proposed development is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement, conforms to the requirements under the Planning Act for the subdivision of land, to the Provincial Growth Plan, Region of Waterloo and City of Cambridge Official Plans and represents good planning. Accordingly, staff recommend approval of the zoning by-law amendment and the proposed draft plan of subdivision."

Polocorp Inc.'s planner and project manager, Matthew Warzecha, will be presenting to council at the July 13 meeting. The session begins at 5 p.m. and can be viewed via live stream shared on the city's YouTube channel.