Richmond city council has given preliminary approval to a developer to build a private post-secondary school in the Capstan area with the caveat -- no dormitories.
However, earlier this week the developer building the campus was advertising a “student hotel” in the complex which would accommodate 900 students in 300 units, with a student activity area, a fitness centre, student lounge and an IT networking space -- much like a dormitory.
Since the Richmond News contacted the city to inquire, the ad was changed and now just reads “hotel” and references to students have been taken out.
The plan for the development – which passed third reading already three years ago - includes office space, two hotels, a restaurant, retail space and the school.
A precondition to rezoning the property is that the hotels aren’t used as dormitories and the maximum on-site hotel stay would be six months.
According to the city, the site is not zoned residential – because it’s on a flight path – and, therefore, can’t be used for dormitories.
But the consultant from Wydanco Consulting, Danny Leung, who put in the application for the developer, said calling the hotel a “student hotel” was an error, and there will be no dormitories for students – they can’t stay there long-term.
“The students can stay short-term – like a hotel,” he said.
The hotel rooms won’t have a kitchen, just a washroom and handwashing area, he added.
Because of the economy, Leung said the post-secondary part of the project isn’t feasible at the moment.
“This economy… it doesn’t look good,” he said.
Leung estimated there would be shovels in the ground in late 2021.
The post-secondary school planned by the developer will provide ESL training, career training, private career college programs, privately and publicly funded college diploma and degree programs as well as first and second year university courses, according to the staff report.
Council approved third reading of the development three years ago, but the developer wants to change how it will be phased in, so they have asked council to rescind third reading to make the changes.
If passed, the developer plans to delay the educational component of the project because of “the change of market demand,” as outlined in the staff report.
Developer contributions to the city include almost $700,000 for “connectivity improvements,” $100,000 for improved pedestrian crossing on Bridgeport Road and three-metre-wide sidewalks on Sea Island Way and Bridgeport Road.
The rezoning application will be dealt with at Monday’s committee meeting.