New Duncan development aims to fill longtime-empty corner

A new mixed commercial-residential development in downtown Duncan inched closer to reality last week as city council gave the first three readings to a rezoning application.

If council gives final approval next month, developers hope to begin construction of Dakova Square at the corner of Canada Avenue and Government Street early next year.

"The next step is to get the final zoning amendment approved, then we’ll proceed with further drawings," developer Vlado Brcic explained.

The current plans for Dakova Square are for a five-storey, 36-unit building, with underground parking for 36 cars. The main floor will be dedicated to commercial use, and will be divided based on tenants.

Brcic is confident that Dakova Square will fit in with downtown Duncan, improving the space and increasing the tax base.

"We’ve done our homework on this, and we think that, given the community, this will be welcome in downtown," he said.

A number of conditions are attached to council’s approval of the rezoning application, including one from the Ministry of Transportation that a study be conducted on traffic volumes. The developers will also share the cost of installing underground utilities with the city, and repair sidewalks.

The application proved controversial in some councillors’ eyes, with the third reading passing by a vote of 4-3.

"I think there were probably different reasons for different councillors," Mayor Phil Kent said, explaining that there was some discussion about the lack of public input, and that some councillors didn’t like the design of the building.

Aspects like the design, character and materials of the structure can be dealt with when council addresses the development permit application, which is separate from the rezoning application.

It’s all part of the process, Kent noted.

"There was good dialogue [at the council meeting]," he said. "It was good to have people out; a lot of good things were brought up."

If council gives final approval in November, the developers plan to begin construction in January, and with a 13-month timeline, they hope to have units ready to move into in January or February 2016.

According to Brcic, there has already been a lot of interest in the residential units at Dakova Square. Brcic plans to buy one of the units for himself.

"I’m excited about this project," he said. "Duncan is a great community."

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