RMOW looks for help building athletes’ village 

Intrawest, muni negotiating rezoning Base II

By Alison Taylor

A deal is in the works that could see Intrawest build a townhouse development at Base II and help the municipality build the multi-million dollar athletes’ village.

Intrawest Placemaking submitted an application to municipal hall in early January for 22 high-end townhomes in the corner of Lot 6, underneath the Blackcomb gondola and opposite the existing buildings at Base II.

Part of the ongoing negotiations include building employee housing at the athletes’ village as a benefit of the rezoning.

Dave Brownlie, chief operating officer of Intrawest Resorts Canada, confirmed the company was looking to use up its remaining bed units — the development tool used by the municipality — which have not been connected to any particular site within Whistler.

“It’s to utilize the development rights, or bed units, that we earned when we developed Blackcomb Mountain,” said Brownlie this week.

There is some debate as to how many so-called “floating” or residual bed units Intrawest has. This proposed townhouse development would use 99 units.

By the municipality’s count there are more than 400 floating bed units not yet tied to any sites — 228 with the Crown, 52 with the municipality and 146 with Intrawest.

Part of the deal now being discussed would see Intrawest take on responsibility for construction of some of the athletes’ village units. The municipality is responsible for the $130 million development that will house the athletes during 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and be converted into more than 300 units of employee housing following the Games.

Having Intrawest take on some of the units would not only ease the municipality’s financial capital burden but also transfer some of the risk of selling the units after the Games.

“My understanding is that we’re looking at supporting the employee housing down there,” said Brownlie.

It is not clear how many employee housing units are part of the discussion.

Whistler-Blackcomb still owes 96 beds of employee housing, roughly 26 townhouse units, at the Cedar Glen site in Spring Creek. Those units could be transferred to the athletes’ village, leaving the Spring Creek site undisturbed.

However, John Morley, Intrawest’s vice president of development for B.C., said the athletes’ village is one of the options but there are other sites on the table.

“Our preference would be to use the Cedar Glen site, because it’s zoned and serviced,” Morley said.

Similarly, the 160 beds, roughly 80 apartment-style units, owned by the Nita Lake lodge developers, could also be transferred to the athletes’ village site.

The rezoning application for Base II is still in the early stages. It details a project with 11 three-bedroom units and 11 four-bedroom units at a prime ski in/ski out location under the gondola. The units would range in size from 2,000 to 2,500 square feet.

Brownlie said the company had been looking at redeveloping its administration and day lodge buildings in the Upper Village as a condo/hotel as a way of maximizing its floating bed units but the Base II townhouse development was seen as a better option overall for the resort.

The parking that would be displaced as a result of the redevelopment would be relocated close to Lots 7 and 8.

In addition to the rezoning, Intrawest also needs approval from the province. The land is Crown land that is used as day area parking under a lease agreement with the province.

Intrawest’s application was submitted to Land and Water B.C. on March 19.

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