The congregation at Elmira’s Trinity United Church has moved ahead with the next step toward redeveloping the church properties at 21 Arthur St. N. and 4 Cross St. into a mixed-use residential building.
Church representatives filed an official plan amendment request with the township last month. The public meeting where this amendment will be discussed will be held virtually on October 31.
The ground floor of the proposed building will be a multi-purpose church facility and associated space, with one residential unit for the Trinity United Church. The next three storeys will include 40 residential units: 25 one-bedroom units, and 15 two-bedroom units. The roof of the building will be an indoor-outdoor amenity space.
“What we’re doing is building an apartment with a church facility on the ground floor. We’re completely taking down the old Trinity and replacing it with an apartment to serve the community and also a church space where we can also serve the community and also worship. And it’ll be a multifunctional space,” said Peter Kupfer, the chair of the Trinity development committee.
Jeremy Vink, Woolwich’s manager of planning, said the congregation’s application will undergo the standard review process. After which, “staff will present a recommendation to council.”
“If it is deemed appropriate, council will need to pass the official plan amendment and then the amendment would need to be approved by the Region of Waterloo.”
In 2021, the congregation auctioned off most of the building’s items and supplies to help fund the church after the property is redeveloped. They’ve been meeting at Floradale Mennonite Church for nearly two years now, said Kupfer.
“We had to find a place and Floradale Mennonite stepped up and helped us, so that’s what happened. Because we had to get the building ready for any immediate changes, approvals, so the developer can act quickly and get construction started.”
There is now another church group called the Citizens Church using the building.
At this point, all the proposed units are planned to be offered at market value. Kupfer says the congregation hopes to work with levels of government to be able to subsidize some of the units to make them affordable.
The congregation’s official plan amendment proposes allowing an increase in residential density from 120 to 137 units per hectare. The proposed total of 40 units would bring net residential density to 127 units per hectare. There is also a zoning amendment for 4 Cross St. to allow a place of worship to be permitted, increase the maximum building height from 10.5 meters to 18.1 and to reduce the required parking from 83 spaces to 57 for a place of worship and 40 dwelling units.
“As far as I know this would be the densest development that we have seen proposed,” said Vink. “Until now the densest development that has been built in the township would be the apartment at 30 Church St. W., which is at 105 units per hectare. In the Southwood subdivision, they do have approval to build a six-storey apartment building which would be just under 90 units per hectare.”
The congregation hired GSP Group in Kitchener to handle the planning aspect of the project.
Kupfer says the congregation first began working toward the goal in 2011-2012.