At the August council meeting, councillors voted to send the then unsatisfactory designs back to the developer Silverleaf Investments.
They called on Silverleaf to take into account suggestions from the Design Advisory Committee to tweak the design to bring it more into line with City expectations, ready for Wednesday’s special council meeting.
The DAC looked over the revised plans last Monday and found them good enough to recommend support, something the councillors agreed on, with 11 of the 12 voting to approve the development.
Changes made include reducing the setback on the fourth storey and agreeing to incorporate some of the building’s original fabric in the new development.
A number of local residents argued against the development, agreeing something was needed to revitalise the High Street Mall but that the design of this development did not relate well to surrounding architecture.
While the four-storey height continues to be a contentious issue among locals, DAC representative Sasha Ivanovich said the City had to give a little with this proposal.
‘Some compromise had to be made,’ he said. ‘We’re not trying to make a new building look like an old building.’
Councillor Andrew Sullivan shared a similar sentiment, saying he spent many days grappling with the thought of how the proposal would stack up in the West End and how the contemporary element would fit in.
‘It doesn’t need to be a copy of an old building; as long as it has some sympathy to the general rhythm and form it will be OK,’ he said.
Local business owners operating in and around the High Street Mall also offered their opinion, many imploring the City to do something to revitalise the area.
Greg MacIntyre told the council he had a business in High Street for the last 15 years and had noticed a significant decline in retail in that time.
‘If we don’t get people spending money to come here, we’re not going to get customers through,’ he said. ‘Everyone loves the West End but it won’t be viable if we look to take it back to the gold rush days.’