Laneway Infill Proposals – Cardero, Comox, and Nelson Streets: Analysis and comments

Development signs have recently been installed and notices to neighbours have been mailed for new development proposals at 1601 Comox/1071 Cardero, 1546 Nelson  and 1529 Comox. Each of these proposals includes the construction of new buildings ranging from three to four storeys in height in the rear yard areas of the buildings on the sites.

It appears these projects can be approved without a Public Hearing, as a result of adoption of the West End Community Plan. The three projects will be reviewed by the city’s Urban Design Panel at the meeting of Wednesday, August 27th (note corrected date).

Please read below and ask yourself, is this what you expected when the City said “laneway housing” was coming to the West End?

Project information is now posted for these each of these developments is listed on the City of Vancouver website at the links below.

1601 Comox (Addressed at 1071 Cardero):  http://former.vancouver.ca/devapps/1071cardero/index.htm

601 Comox (Addressed 1071 Cardero)Note that the sign board in front of this project indicates that the proposed FSR (Floor Space Ratio, or the ratio of the building area to the lot area) is 2.36.  This ignores the existing building on the site, so the total FSR is actually approximately 4.4.  The project includes “family-oriented” two-bedroom units as small as 618 square feet.  Continue reading

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Beach Towers development plans now online, public input invited (DE418163 & DE418164)

The Beach Towers development is moving through the next phase of the City’s approvals process (public hearing for the rezoning was in February 2013). Details of the development application have now been posted online. The public now has the opportunity to provide input.

1600 & 1625 Harwood Street – DE418163 & DE418164
Details: http://former.vancouver.ca/devapps/1600harwood/index.htm

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We encourage anyone concerned or affected to have a look at the documents (links are copied below for your convenience). Residents living in or near Beach Towers may wish to see if any concerns they expressed before and during the rezoning process have been addressed. (They may also wish to organize a good framework for dealing with the City and contractors during the upcoming construction work.)

Comments from the public should be received on or before September 19, 2014 to be considered in the staff review, though comments will also be considered up to the date of the decision by the DPB.

This application is scheduled on the agenda for this DPB meeting:
Development Permit Board
November 17, 2014 (meeting starts 3 pm)
Town Hall Meeting Room, 1st Floor, Vancouver City Hall (Main Building)

Please contact Wendy LeBreton, Project Facilitator directly at 604.871.6796 or wendy.lebreton [at] vancouver.ca if you have any further comments or questions. Continue reading

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Comments on 1155 Thurlow rezoning for 22-storey tower (Public Hearing July 15): Density, rents, urban design, and fairness

1155 Thurlow, aerial photo site surrounding CoV-PH, 15-Jul-2014(Updated/revised) Though the creation of social housing is a laudable objective, an examination of this application from the perspective of urban planning and fairness to the West End neighbourhood shows that  some things are seriously wrong with this development.

This post is a compilation of comments WEN has received on this rezoning application at 1155 Thurlow, going to Public Hearing on July 15, 2014. To be updated as more come in.

The site is where  Central Presbyterian Church stands today. The application has been coordinated by Henriquez Partners Architects (other recent projects by this firm include what is now the 21-storey The Alexandra at Bidwell and Davie, and the former site of St. John’s Church, now 22-storey The Lauren, at Comox and Broughton).1155 Thurlow, building image CoV-PH, 15-Jul-2014

The application is for a “22-storey mixed-use building comprised of a church, child day care facility, one retail unit, and a total of 213 dwelling units of which 168 would be secured as market rental housing and 45 would be secured as social housing. The proposed floor space ratio (FSR) is 9.45 and height is 63 metres (207 feet).”

Key concerns:

  1. Density of the project
  2. Rents for the social housing units (and whether these are truly “social housing”) and market rental units (for which no information has been provided to the public)
  3. Other urban planning considerations
  4. Fairness to the community

Continue reading

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Public Hearing 15-July-2014 (Tues), 22-storey tower at 1155 Thurlow Street (1108 Pendrell Street) (DE417385)

1155 Thurlow, building image CoV-PH, 15-Jul-2014A Public Hearing will occur on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at Vancouver City Hall, for an important development application in the West End — a 22-storey tower at 1155 Thurlow Street. Below we provide official information from the City, based on e-mail, website (Rezoning Centre and Public Hearing agenda). Separately, we will provide an independent analysis, time permitting. If you feel you  are affected by this development, we encourage you to write or speak to City Council. See the Public Hearing agenda for info on how to do so.

1155 Thurlow Street 1155 Thurlow, aerial photo site surrounding CoV-PH, 15-Jul-2014
North 1/2 of Lot 1, South 1/2 of Lot 1, East 1/2 of Lot 2 and West 1/2 of Lot 2, Block 24 District Lot 185 Plan 92; PIDs 015-750-051, 015-750-060, 015-750-078 and 015-750-086 respectively
To rezone 1155 Thurlow Street from RM-5B (Multiple Dwelling) District to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) District, to permit the development of a 22-storey mixed-use building comprised of a church, child day care facility, one retail unit, and a total of 213 dwelling units of which 168 would be secured as market rental housing and 45 would be secured as social housing. The proposed floor space ratio (FSR) is 9.45 and height is 63 metres (207 feet).

From City of Vancouver Rezoning Centre

Rezoning and Development Permit Application – 1155 Thurlow Street (1108 Pendrell Street) (DE417385) Continue reading

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WEN appeals Supreme Court decision, challenges City’s logic and facts on STIR and Rental 100 developer incentive programs

MEDIA RELEASEWEN logo Raster RGB

 

WEN appeals Court decision, challenges City’s logic and facts on STIR and Rental 100 developer incentive programs.

(Vancouver, July 14, 2014) Continuing its legal action with the City of Vancouver, West End Neighbours (WEN) announces that it filed a notice of appeal with the BC Supreme Court on June 30.

In its May 30 decision, the Court found that “there has not been unlawful delegation of legislative authority by the City,” and that it is “within the City’s authority to establish an eligible development of ‘for-profit affordable rental housing’.”

WEN continues to assert that the City improperly granted generous incentives to developers under Short Term Incentives for Rental (STIR) and is still doing so under the Rental 100 program. WEN finds it troubling that the Court agreed with the City, finding that it can define affordable rental housing anyway it wants. In fact, the City’s thinking could be characterized by this simplistic definition: “Affordable housing is housing someone can afford” (as stated by Vision Vancouver City Councillor Kerry Jang on August 19, 2013). Continue reading

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West End Plan will spark a real estate boom here, says Business in Vancouver (June 17, 2014)

West End aerial view, in CoV WE Plan draft 22-Oct-2013Business in Vancouver carries an interesting story about the West End Community Plan.

Real Estate Boom Projected For Vancouver’s West End: A new community plan unlocks value—and development potential—in one of Vancouver’s most storied (and storeyed) neighbourhoods
(by Margo Harper, June 17, 2014)

WEN has raised many issues about flaws in the public engagement process that led to the adoption of the Plan in November 2013, and a package of major zoning amendments in January 2014. Did the community get the full goods during the process? Now we are beginning to see what the Plan is looking like for the real estate and development industry. In time, we will have a better understanding of impacts on our community. Who benefits and who loses from the Plan? Below are some excerpts and relevant points. We encourage readers to also see the full original article.

Real Estate Boom Projected For Vancouver’s West End
http://www.bcbusiness.ca/real-estate/real-estate-boom-projected-for-vancouvers-west-end

Excerpts:
Vancouver’s West End is on the verge of a dramatic real estate revival sparked by density brought on by a recent community plan, according to a real estate industry report to be released Thursday.

The article goes on to indicate how important the West End Plan will be for a development boom in our neighbourhood.

The report, to be issued on June 19, is Colliers Spring 2014 LandShare Report, “which analyzes sales, rezoning and development applications in all municipalities, Metro Vancouver has seen a surge in the completion of larger scale transactions since the beginning of the year after recently introduced community plans spurred land owners to sell. Nowhere is this trend more apparent than Vancouver’s densest urban village.”

“Nothing would have happened without the West End community plan,” says James Lang, the market intelligence manager for Colliers International Realty. “That plan unlocked value and growth potential in the downtown core where land is so scarce.” 
 
“…There are other ones [real estate deals] in play that I can’t talk about yet,” says Lang. “We are expecting three or four significant sales to close soon. These will be quite large transactions for existing buildings. When the community plan came in, the land value went up. The land is now worth much more than the buildings, so it makes sense to redevelop.”
 
The Rental 100 program—while a boon for developers—has not been without community controversy. The West End Neighbours Association (WEN) has challenged the program several times in B.C. Supreme Court—most recently on the grounds that it would not provide affordable housing to Vancouver renters. In a recent decision, the B.C. Supreme Court found that the City has wide discretion to define housing affordability, and said further definition is best left to voters at the ballot box.

In a press release, WEN director Virginia Richards criticized the city rental program which has “virtually unlimited powers to give developers incentives without producing affordable housing.” 

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Supreme Court judgment released in WEN legal challenge to STIR, Rental 100: Initial response by WEN

MEDIA RELEASEWEN logo Raster RGB

Judgment released in WEN legal challenge to STIR, Rental 100: Court finds that City has almost unlimited power to define Housing Affordability as “Affordable Housing is Housing Someone can Afford”

(Vancouver, 30-May-2014)  West End Neigbours reports today that the Honourable Madam Justice Susan A. Griffin has handed down her judgment on WEN Residents Society v. Vancouver (City) (2014 BCSC 965). In effect, she found that the City of Vancouver has virtually unlimited powers to give developers incentives without producing “affordable housing.”

This issue goes back to 2009 when City Council adopted the Short Term Incentives for Rental (STIR) program, replaced by Rental 100 in December 2011.

Virginia Richards, speaking as a Director of WEN, said as an initial response: “Our legal challenge was successful in forcing the City to make changes to bylaws in December, but we regret this Court decision today. We are residents who feel something is fundamentally wrong with City processes, and with the STIR and Rental 100 programs in particular. We were motivated to take action to challenge a City Hall that appears to be overstepping its boundaries in so many ways. We are grateful to the many people who gave us moral and financial support for our legal initiative, and for their understanding that this whole attempt has been done with considerable personal sacrifice. It is not something we started lightly. Though the judge’s opinion is that the City of Vancouver has not broken the letter of the law, we feel that this is very different from the spirit of the law.”

More initial comments: Continue reading

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Video, media of Vancouver heritage advocates at threatened Legg Residence, 1241 Harwood, 25-May-2014

On Sunday, May 25, 2014, between 100 and 200 citizens gathered despite heavy rain to put a spotlight on issues surrounding the accelerating loss of heritage homes in Vancouver. This event was held in front of the Legg Residence at 1241 Harwood Street in the West End. Below is video of presentations plus a compilation of links to media coverage.

Caroline Adderson (Facebook: VancouverVanishes)

<a title=”http://www.michaelkluckner.com/&#8221; href=”http://www.michaelkluckner.com/&#8221; target=”_blank”>Michael Kluckner</a> (artist, author, heritage activist)

Elizabeth Murphy (policy expert, <a title=”http://www.nsvancouver.ca&#8221; href=”http://www.nsvancouver.ca&#8221; target=”_blank”>Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver</a>)

Adriane Carr (Councillor, City of Vancouver). (Sorry for low volume, due to rain water on microphone. Will try to fix this, but meanwhile, please turn up your volume to hear.)

Talented violinists started the event

Continue reading

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Photos of 1241 Harwood, Legg Residence, locals’ event to stop heritage demolition, May 18, 2014

About 200 people stopped by and talked to organizers Shahla and Paulette, who organized this four-hour event to raise awareness about the Legg Residence and explain that it didn’t have to be this way. Many people felt the same!

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“Stop the Demolitions” major event planned at threatened heritage home – 1241 Harwood, The Legg Residence, May 25 (Sun) 3 pm

“Stop the Demolitions”
3 pm on Sunday, May 25, 2014
1241 Harwood Street

Update on speakers:

  • Michael Kluckner (artist, author, and heritage activist)
  • Elizabeth Murphy (Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver)
  • Adriane Carr (Vancouver City Councillor)

While demolition equipment has been moved into location this week, a large turnout is expected at this event in front of the Legg Residence in Vancouver’s West End. Renowned author/artist Michael Kluckner (Vanishing Vancouver, and Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years) is one of the scheduled speakers at this event. It is being convened by citizens concerned about the loss of heritage, and they have created a Facebook page for the event here. Further details, links, and background are below.

1241 Harwood poster 25-May-2014

Poster in PDF format: Vanishing Vancouver, 1241 Harwood, heritage event 25-May-2014

For several years this site has been the centre of debate about development versus protection of heritage and the environment. CityHallWatch has shown that processes at City Hall let the citizens of Vancouver down, as the City failed to use tools at its disposal to save both the house and trees on the site.

The Vancouver Sun and other media last week quoted the City’s Director of Planning Brian Jackson indicating that the building could be saved if someone came forward with a proposal to move it.

But we have obtained the following response from a “Property Rehabilitator” who investigated moving the Legg Residence:  Continue reading

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