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Plans for former Ben’s Bakery site unveiled

Developers for former Ben’s Bakery site present plans for apartment complex and family housing at public meeting on Saturday

3 min read
Francis Tessier-Burns
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caption Joe Zareski, right, uses a 3D model to explain the plans for the former Ben’s Bakery site.
Francis Tessier-Burns

The smell of bread may waft through Pepperell St. once again.

A community stone oven was one of the ideas suggested by architect Joe Zareski to keep the feel of Ben’s Bakery alive on Quinpool Rd.

Dozens of people gathered at the West End United Church on Saturday for the second public meeting and consultation regarding the former bakery property.

Westwood Developments bought the 10,000 sq. m site in December last year. It has since hired Zareski and Architecture 49 to come up with plans for condos and an apartment complex to replace the bakery’s buildings, which have been mostly vacant since November 2015.

Although no official budget has been set, Westwood Developments “anticipates” the project costing around $60 million to build about 200 units.

“Today is a really important day,” said Zareski following the discussion. “We’re going to go back to our studios with great ideas, and I know this will actually improve the design.”

Zareski said the new developments will appeal to different demographics.

“The opportunities that creates, as far as the dynamic between demographics, allows for the community to be more long-term — more sustainable,” he said.

The Berkeley retirement home was also announced as a partner at Saturday’s meeting.

A couple other highlights from the plans included more family-oriented housing and an open “green space.” 

Most people felt the plans reflected their ideas for the new development.
caption Most people felt the plans reflected their ideas for the new development.
Francis Tessier-Burns

Most people were onboard with the Shirley St. and Pepperell St. layout maintaining the neighbourhood-look, but the proposed large apartment building along Quinpool Road caused some problems. 

“There’s still some work to do on the apartment building,” said Zareski. “But I think a building can be tall if it’s more interesting to look at.”

Kourosh Rad, an urban planner with WSP Global Inc., a partner in the development, said it was “refreshing” to get positive feedback on the plans.

“They’ve been here for 30, 40 years at times and they know the neighbourhood better than anybody else,” he said. “So opening up the doors and opening your ears to listen to them… that is the secret to creating something that fits within a neighbourhood.”

Surprisingly, keeping the bread smell was part of the plan.

“It’s very appropriate for this site,” said Zareski, “and returns that sense of place that people have missed and maybe not realized they missed.”

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