Holborn site and amenity back to drawing board 

RMOW confirms rezoning file closed on townhouse/tennis club deal

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The Holborn Group is back at the drawing board after closing the rezoning file on its prime plot of Whistler real estate.

Both the municipality and the development company are still keen to see the site, home of the current tennis club on Northlands Blvd., developed. But since the request to close the file more than a year ago there have been just a handful of meetings between the two sides.

"It would be nice to see something happen there," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden this week, expressing frustration that she has rezoned this particular piece of property three times over her years on council, and still, its future is uncertain, as is the community summer amenity that was supposed to be delivered when the call went out for development proposals more than two decades ago.

The latest rezoning made it to third reading on May 2008 — the last step before the bylaws are approved. Had it been approved, the development would have allowed 58 market townhouses, 123 market condo apartment units, a seniors' apartment building and a 56,000-square foot tennis and fitness centre with seven outdoor courts, including one stadium court.

And then came the economic crash and that zoning remained in limbo at third reading for almost four years.

Then on January 2012, Holborn president Joo Kim Tiah wrote a letter to the municipality indicating that Holborn would not be moving forward, and requested that the file be closed. The municipality would not release the letter this week when asked.

Holborn representatives could not comment before press time.

With the rezoning file closed, it means the land reverts back to the current zoning, which allows a 300,000-square foot, nine-storey hotel and spa. The developers are also required to build a "world-class" tennis facility as a community amenity, a deal negotiated in 1989 when Whistler put out a call for development proposals that would deliver summer amenities to develop summer business.

The mayor could not place a value on that amenity.

"There is some discussion about what the community amenity is and whether it can be changed to something else," said Wilhelm-Morden.

"I think there still is some sentiment in the community that a first-class tennis amenity would be a good thing."

Tennis club member Michael D'Artois said the tennis community is eager to see their long-promised facility come into being.

"We're maintaining as best we can," he said, referring to the club, which he added has been deteriorating over the years.

"We hope (the facility) survives to the next stage."

Also keenly interested in the future of the Holborn lands is the seniors' community, represented by the Mature Action Community (MAC).

"There's always been a high level of interest in a seniors' community there," said MAC board member Gord Leidal in his presentation at the recent MAC annual general meeting.

The last rezoning included a 20-unit seniors' housing apartment complex plus a seniors' activity centre as a community amenity, in a prime location next to the village and close to the health centre. That is now effectively off the table.

Seniors have been talking to Holborn reps in the meantime.

"We want to make sure our foot is in the door," said Leidal.

There is no indication of when a new application may be coming forward for consideration.


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