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Posted: November 6, 2014

Auto mall gets city thumbs up

Another large Theatre Road area empty space is destined for development following City of Cranbrook council approval Nov. 3.

City council approved an Industrial Development Permit for Living Stones Development Ltd. to build an auto-mall at 1950 Theatre Road. The 4.56 acres property is located behind Wal-Mart and beside the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations compound.

The proposed auto mall will be comprised of three auto-dealership buildings, a detail shop and accessory building, with site area for a potential fourth dealership, notes a city Corporate Services report to council.

Four main buildings will be featured in the mall, including a 9,504 sq. ft. Nissan building, 6,000 sq. ft Subaru building, 7,000 sq. ft. Volkswagen building and a 2,400 sq. ft. detail shop. There will also be a 400 sq. ft. accessory building pergola.

“Site landscaping is proposed as part of the overall development and will consist of a 20 ft. wide grassed boulevard with 11 Pyramid Mountain Ash trees planted around the Theatre Road and McPhee Road perimeter. Purple Barberry and Yellow PotentiIIa bushes will also be planted. The applicant indicates the landscaping will be maintained over time with a three-zone irrigation system with a rain sensor designed to conserve water when not needed,” the Corporate Services report notes.

City council was almost unanimous in approving the development permit.

Coun. Gerry Warner was the lone council member to vote against approval, citing concern about the vacant spaces being left behind on the Highway 3/95 strip by the three participating auto dealerships.

“It leaves empty spaces on our strip; big empty car lots on our strip. I don’t think that’s good,” Warner said, adding the Corporate Services report states, “The proposal still needs to be reviewed in depth by the Engineering Department, which may require changes to meet all bylaws applicable to building and development, including the Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw, Building Bylaw, and Sign Bylaw.”

With that in mind, Warner suggested council give the engineering department time to finish a review before passing a decision.

Coun. Denise Pallesen
Coun. Denise Pallesen

Other council members disagreed.

“This is going to be wonderful to have. Another empty space that will be filled with vibrant businesses,” stated Coun. Denise Pallesen. Council shouldn’t halt progress “because we are afraid of an empty lot,” she added.

Mayor Wayne Stetski said the project proponents are “pretty positive about finding new owners for the properties.”

Coun. Bob Whethem suggested the car dealerships departing the strip “will attract a different kind of use. I see this as part of a natural progression.”

Coun. Angus Davis said the city is “lucky to have all this development” but agreed the “optics on the strip” could be a concern.

While noting there “might be a lot of unknowns,” Coun. Sharon Cross said she knows that city staff “have spent enough time with the proponent” and “they want to get things moving.”

Coun. Diana J Scott said she wasn’t worried about unknowns because city staff “always errs on the side of caution. It’s a step-wise progression. I think it’s exciting.”

Lead image: The Theatre Road and McPhee Road lot where the auto mall will be built.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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