Wheeler Street residents fear the bling

A new triplex proposed for Wheeler Street does not fit the neighbourhood’s character, say area residents.

A new triplex proposed for Wheeler Street does not fit the neighbourhood’s character, say area residents.

The building will have too many parking spots, it’s too large and will cast neighbouring lots into shadow, they say.

And, while they are not opposed to new neighbourhood development, they can’t support a plan that calls for a 8.1-metre-tall, three-unit building on their street, say residents of Wheeler Street’s 800 block.

The residents brought their concerns before council on Monday night.

The new building proposed for 802 Wheeler by Dave MacLellan and Barbara Adam is scheduled to be built on the site of a burned-out building.

The existing lot is littered with syringes and frequented by “crack heads,” say area residents.

Be that as it may,  MacLellan and Adam’s current proposal won’t fit in with residents’ vision for the neighbourhood, said Gord Bradshaw, who lives in the area.

“While I’m in favour of increasing density downtown, I think in the long run it makes sense I’m not particularly happy with this particular situation,” said Bradshaw.

“It doesn’t fit in at all.

“It’s quite blingy, if I can say that.”

Bling is urban slang for gaudy jewelry. It’s also the name of another downtown development.

And like that development, which towers over its neighbours, the proposed triplex at 802 Wheeler is just too large, said area resident Ernie Buckle.

“It will deprive most of its neighbours of privacy,” he said.

“By my calculations, this building will by far be the biggest building in the neighbourhood.

“It’s the equivalent of putting a monster truck in the middle of a Volkswagen convention.”

He’d like to see existing residents given the opportunity to expand their houses and add their own suites instead of letting the well-heeled come in and build up, said Buckle.

“It doesn’t seem fair that developers can come in and buy a house, tear it down and put up a huge development while people who live there already have problems increasing their own density,” he said.

Heather Kennedy, whose Cook Street home is across the alley from the Wheeler Street property, has her own concerns.

Because the building is currently being used by people puffing on crack pipes, she’s not against seeing something different go on there, she said.

But, she wants to know if the Adam and MacLellan plan to subdivide, she added.

Francis Landreth, whose property is next door to 802 Wheeler, would rather see a duplex, she said.

A triplex is too large and would hog her share of downtown sunlight, she said.

The proposed triplex would also have windows on the second floor which would allow people to stare into her backyard, said Landreth.

“I’m not against higher density … I think a duplex would be a good compromise.”

The triplex would also bring in more traffic in an area that has had to put up with scores of cars going to the drug dealer’s house down the street, she added.

The couple may be being criticized for trying something different, said Adam.

“I think it’s difficult to be the first one in a neighbourhood to be doing something new,” she said.

The couple needed to build a two-storey triplex in order to make buying and redeveloping the burned-out property worth it, said Adam.

“It’s not economically viable not to go to two storeys.”

If the unit were allowed to move ahead, the couple would live in one unit, their daughter in another and the third would be sold, said MacLellan.

They’re looking to move downtown from their Spruce Hill home because they want to be able to walk to the amenities they enjoy, he said.

“We’re excited at the thought of living downtown.”