Monday, June 17, 2013

Developer pulls the old switcheroo at Glover Road and Langley Bypass

I almost chocked on my breakfast this morning when I read the City of Langley Development Services gushing about a proposed Porsche dealership at the corner of Glover Road and the Langley Bypass.

Render of proposed Porsche Dealership at Glover Road and the Langley Bypass

The architectural design reflects Porsche’s international brand image and combines simplicity and elegance in a modernistic expression. The Porsche brand is associated with attributes such as sportiness, performance and quality.

Site plan for the proposed Porsche Dealership at Glover Road and the Langley Bypass

Now I know that the City of Langley is “open for business”, but I didn’t know that they just cut and paste what is clearly the biased opinion of the OpenRoad Group as Development Services' opinion of the proposed project.

For a bit of history, back in 2010 when this project was originally proposed, the corner of Glover Road and the Langley Bypass was to be a 40,000sq. ft retail development with 30,000sq. ft of office space. It was also to have a LEED Gold rating. The City of Langley approved this plan three years ago. Of course thing change, but I wonder if this retail/office development was ever to get built?

Original office/retail site plan for Glover Road and the Langley Bypass. Click image to enlarge.

The first variance to this project was requested in 2011 for the installation of two massive 50 foot signs on Glover Road and the Langley Bypass. City council approved this variance to the City’s sign bylaw which normally allows for no more than one freestanding sign for each business to a maximum height of 26 feet. I don’t know of many cities in Metro Vancouver that would actually approve 50-foot signs; I was honestly amazed that the OpenRoad Group got away with this.

The City of Surrey, for example, limits signs to a height of 15 to 25 feet in Langley Bypass type areas, and requires even smaller signs in other parts of the community to protect it from “the negative effects of signs which may be inappropriate as to appearance, size, height, design and location.”

Four-Storey Auto Mall Sign on Glover Road. (Four-Storey Apartment, Left Background)

It appears the OpenRoad group has been able to do whatever they want in the City of Langley as I’m fairly certain that City Council will approve the latest revision to this project.

The thing that sadden me is that Glover Road was originally supposed to be to be a “Gateway Street” into the City of Langley's Downtown Core with “signs and identifiable public realm elements and improvements, such as banners and the iconic lights, along the gateway streets to introduce downtown character and guide movement towards the downtown.” The general idea was for “Gateway Streets” to become more pedestrian friendly.

Gateway Street Design from Downtown Langley Master Plan

But instead of a street that welcome and leads people into Downtown Langley, Glover Road will now feature auto-dealerships and a gas station which to me does not say welcome to walkable Downtown Langley.

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