Windmill Development Group has been selected to partner with the City of Guelph, Ont. to develop a One Planet Living community, a socially and environmentally sustainable mixed-use project in the city’s downtown.
The 400,000-square-foot development is located on Baker Street and will include two 10-storey residential buildings, one on the north side and one on the south side of a new public street, which will include 25,000 square feet of retail and office space, a municipal library, a public plaza and a public parking garage. It will provide about 275 residential units to support the city’s intensification goals. The overall cost is approximately $250 million.
The property currently houses a city parking lot which will be replaced with a structured parking lot with density above it.
“It’s a city-owned parcel of land in downtown Guelph that will be an infill development,” explained Jonathan Westeinde, a managing partner with Windmill Developments. “It’s in the early planning stages. We don’t anticipate being in the ground on this project until the earliest Q4 2020 or Q1 2021.”
Westeinde said the development will use the One Planet Living framework, which resonated well with the city during the competitive RFP process. One Planet Living is a planning and sustainability framework by Bioregional, a company that works with partners to create better places for people to live, work and do business, it states. It’s predicated on building communities where people can live “happy and healthy lives within the limits of the planet, leaving space for wildlife and wilderness and using their fair share of the earth’s resources,” states the Bioregional website.
“One planet is the same framework we used on our Zibi development (Canada’s first One Planet community) in Ottawa. Basically it allows for a much broader, holistic approach beyond just the buildings, as far as creating a sustainability matrix,” said Westeinde.
“It has 10 core target areas and really goes beyond just targeting energy efficiency and waste but gets into equity and local economy, health and happiness. Fundamentally it is trying to demonstrate…how developments can happen using the resources of one planet.”
Its 10 principles, which work together to help make sustainable living a reality for anyone, anywhere, include health and happiness, equity and local economy, culture and community, land and nature, sustainable water, local sustainable food, materials and products, travel and transport, zero waste and zero carbon.
The project team for the Guelph development includes DTAH which will be responsible for landscape and urban design as well as architecture alongside Diamond Schmitt Architects.
Windmill’s sister strategic consulting company Urban Equation will design a sustainability framework that is based on the One Planet Living principles. The rest of the project team is being assembled, Westeinde reported.
The biggest challenge so far has been the infrastructure timing and requirements for the site.
“There is also going to be a central city urban park that is part of our development. It coincides with another park the city was looking to develop and planning the timing of getting the servicing to the site and all those elements…we’re just working with the city right now to line up the ducks and make sure that we can sequence things in proper order,” said Westeinde.
The developer is hoping its commercial and institutional occupants will attract locals and visitors to the site to create a strong community hub.
“The mix of tenants, which we can’t fully speak about yet, these groups are expressing interest and we are just getting them finalized,” said Westeinde. “It is meant to be a block that creates a real community hub, a real energy. It’s not just a standard commercial or retail space.”
The city’s downtown secondary plan, approved in 2012, opened the door for the Baker District to respond to the market with a major mixed-use development, said Westeinde, adding it still requires full public consultation, which will likely start in November.