Student housing complex with graffiti wall planned near Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo

Student housing complex with graffiti wall planned near Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo
WA Architects
An artist rendering of a proposed student housing complex at 326 Wakesiah Ave. in Nanaimo.

More student housing could be coming to Nanaimo.

SHZT Investments Canada Incorporated is proposing to build a four-storey 162-unit mixed-use student housing complex at 326 Wakesiah Ave., located near Vancouver Island University, called the Wakesiah Student Housing Project. The company has submitted rezoning and development permit applications to the City of Nanaimo.

Designed by WA Architects, the proposed development would consist of 162 units of dedicated student housing –156 studio-units and six two-bedroom units – as well as three ground floor commercial units and a residential manager’s suite.

Studio units will be between 29 square-metres and 36 square-metres in size while the two-bedroom units would range from 66 square-metres to 80 square-metres. Some units will have balconies while three two-bedroom units will have two bathrooms instead of one.

Each floor will have a student lounge, common room, laundry room and storage facilities while 60 vehicle parking stalls and 104 bike stalls will also be provided. Outdoor amenities include benches, garden plots, and a lawn.

Additionally, the development includes just under 500 square-metres of dedicated ground floor commercial space that can accommodate restaurants with outdoor patio seating.

The proposed development would be constructed on a 4,540 square metre property located directly across from Nanaimo District Secondary School. Single-family homes currently occupy the property, which is located between Third Street and Foster Street and connects to Hillcrest Avenue.

A unique element of the proposed student housing complex is a “graffiti wall” that will face a planned pedestrian walkway connecting Wakesiah and Hillcrest Avenues.

In a letter to city council and staff, Xeniya Vins of WA Architects wrote that the building has a “modern fun design aesthetic” that is intended to “capture the spirit” of the prospective residents. She also said the graffiti wall is intended to serve as a “permanent or ever-changing” artistic space for residents and the general public.

“We envision this wall as a canvas for local artists and community members to create vibrant and exciting art . . .  to be enjoyed by all. This graffiti wall would be part of an essential pedestrian corridor – a link – connecting the neighbourhood with the university and the community centre. It will act as an outdoor art gallery, one that can be further expanded as future adjacent properties are developed, to become a true public forum, a place of community participation and engagement,” she wrote.

The City of Nanaimo has expressed concerns about the lack of available student housing in Nanaimo, particularly near Vancouver Island University, in recent years. However, the area has experienced a rash of development, including a mixed-use development with student housing that is under construction at nearby 525 Third St.

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Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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