Oct 30,2004 Now News

By Ken Gracey - Staff Reporter - Now News

A piece of land that houses The Alley Youth Centre in Port Moody is being rezoned to prepare it for future development.

After a public hearing, Port Moody council moved to rezone 2732 St. John's St. from public and institutional to commercial-mixed use. The city lot next door, at 2718 St. John's, already carries the same zoning.

Matching the two lots clears the way for the properties, which used to house a fire hall and police station, to be developed into three- to four-storey buildings for multi-family residential and commercial use, with 80 to 92 units.

No decision has been made on what to do with the two lots, but Mayor Joe Trasolini told The NOW the city is leaning toward selling the land to developers.

"It is wide open," Trasolini said. "It will be guided by the principle that we want the best revenue for the city."

A sale could net more than $1 million, in addition to an estimated $336,000 in development cost charges and $45,000 to $55,000 in yearly property taxes.

As far as The Alley is concerned, Trasolini said the youth centre will be offered a space in the new development or the city will help with relocation, but it will not be closed. Until the land is developed, the city is looking at options for a temporary relocation of the centre, which provides drop-in services for youth ages 11 to 18.

The Mountain View Gallery, which sits in the old police station at 2720 St. John's St., is closing its doors in December. Trasolini denied allegations by the owners that the city "doubled" the gallery's lease, forcing it to close.

"We have to negotiate the current market value," Trasolini said. "It's not a question of doubling the lease, it's an issue of bringing it to today's market value."

The city approached Mountain View to offer it a new one- or two-year lease, Trasolini said, but the owners wanted to keep the status quo. He also said the city was turned down when it offered to negotiate to have the gallery occupy the new building.

David McCann, who is looking after the store while Mountain View's owners are on holidays, said the new rent was too much for the business to absorb.

Council also tabled a motion to redevelop 2614 and 2615 St. John's St., property owned by the B.C. Transportation Authority and Lucky Pacific Hotel Ltd., to make way for eight townhouse units in three-storey buildings.