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Ridgeway school destined for residential redevelopment
The Ridgeway Annex school building will soon be no more as the North Vancouver School District narrowed its options for the former elementary site to a pair of bids for residential redevelopment.
The decision followed a community meeting last November which explored four possible futures for the school property; three bids to build new homes and one to use the existing building as a daycare.
Along with the daycare proposal, one of the residential redevelopment bids was dropped Jan. 18, leaving only two remaining bids, both seeking to demolish the school building and turn the land into mixed residential lots.
The two remaining proposals are from Anthem Properties of Vancouver and Darwin Properties of North Vancouver. The school board will announce its final decision prior to the spring break.
At the November meeting, Anthem pitched a variety of housing styles for the 450 East Fifth St. site, including a mix of townhouses and single-family homes that would bring between 24 and 60 new market residential units to the neighbourhood.
But Anthem president Eric Carlson said then that the company’s preferred plan would be to build just eight single-family homes and eight laneway homes around a small “pocket park.”
Darwin similarly emphasized green space in its proposals for the Ridgeway site, as president Oliver Webbe proposed turning the school’s large gravel yard into a grassy public park.
The idea proved popular among the nearly 100 neighbours who attended the meeting. Adjacent to the park, Webbe said, would be nine duplex homes; five of which would front onto East Fifth Street and four onto the rear laneway, backing onto the park.
Darwin was also the only bidder at that time to indicate it was open to the idea of leasing the property from the school district long term instead of buying it outright, something Anthem did not explicitly address.
Regardless of the school district’s decision on the property, a lengthy public process lies ahead as the developer will have to amend the City of North Vancouver’s community plan to rezone the Ridgeway Avenue lot between East Fifth and East Sixth streets.
In the meantime, the school district is also looking to sell or lease two other shuttered school properties. The former Plymouth elementary is being sought by two residential developers — including Darwin — as well as by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and by private educator Lions Gate Christian Academy.
Likewise, the Keith Lynn Alternative secondary building is being pursued for re-use by the Transforming Education Society, which is looking to relocate Windsor House School from the Lucas Centre. However, the District of North Vancouver has expressed concerns about the structural safety of the building and the location as it relates to future transportation plans.
North Shore Studios also has a bid in to completely redevelop the Keith Lynn property for its own purposes.