At first glance, it's a unique plan for Parksville, a development with a plaza feel that doesn't put parking right out front.
The mixed residential/commercial project at the corner of Island Highway and Shelly Road — beside A&W and across Shelly from Parksville Chrysler — received its development permit last week from city council in a unanimous vote.
The plan is to feature at least six retail shops and another larger building with 27 residential units. All would be facing a courtyard that would have what's being called a rain garden, along with tables and chairs, presumably for people to mingle and enjoy the services of the retail shops. Parking for the residences would be underground.
"I'm pleased with the rain garden, the mixed use," said Coun. Teresa Patterson, who sits on the city's advisory design panel. "It won't happen all at once, is what I gathered, but in phases."
Island West Coast Developments Ltd. of Nanaimo is spearheading the project for the owners, who include Parksville Chrysler's Bruce Alexander, said Island West Coast's Jordan Almond, who could not put a timeline on construction, completion or residency.
"We're in the midst of getting proposals together for sub consultants and then we will put together drawings for building permits," said Almond, who also said the state of the economy right now is a plus for the project.
"The market is definitely favourable right now — great timing for building," said Almond. "It's a very exciting project."
Almond said he has been in discussion with a few possible retail tenants, but "nothing is set in stone." The drawings seem to indicate a preference for a coffee shop as one of the tenants.
Architect Raymond DeBeeld said the design offers something a little different than similar retail/commercial mix developments.
"We're trying to get away from the parking lot in front, facing the street," said DeBeeld.
Other plans for residential developments on high-profile land have received development permits in the last couple of years (on McMillan and at the old Post and Lantern Inn site on Island Highway across from McDonald's, for example), but have not started construction.