Bosa tower (1500 W Georgia) 43 storeys revised concept proposed: Open house Feb 4 (Thurs)

Bosa 1500 West Georgia image proposed Jan 2016Bosa Properties is holding an open house to show their revised plans for a tower at 1500 West Georgia Street. The tower has been scaled back from the original 50 storeys to 43.

Open House
Empire Landmark Hotel, 1400 Robson St, (Pavilion 1)
5 –7:30 pm (drop in)
Thursday, February 4th, 2016

This event is organized by the developer, a chance for input at this point. A separate open house would be expected in the future hosted by the City, as part of the rezoning process.

 

 

Bosa 1500 West Georgia image proposed, open house invite card, 4-Feb-2016

Continue reading

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21 & 23 storeys set for Davie Safeway at 1661 Davie (DE419982). Henriquez/Westbank. Open House Feb 29. DPB May 2.

1661-davie from changingcitybook-comA development application sign has just gone up at the Safeway store at 1661 Davie Street (and Cardero) for two towers above a re-built Safeway store.

This is the first public notice about this Davie Safeway application. No Public Hearing is required, as City Council “pre-zoned” this site in connection with the West End Community Plan in 2013. Two more towers recently approved (also with no Public Hearing required thanks to the WECP) are on the same block: 23 storeys on the London Drugs parking lot at 1668 Davie, and 22 storeys above what is now Mac’s at 1188 Bidwell). The four-person Development Permit Board at City Hall will approve the project on May 3, 2016. In practice, public input is generally limited to minor design details for projects like these.

Below are excerpts of the City web page.

Open House (applicant team and City staff present)
5 to 8 pm, Monday, February 29, 2016
Coast Plaza Hotel, 1763 Comox Street

Henriquez Partners Architects has applied for Westbank Projects Corp. to the City of Vancouver for permission to develop this site with a mixed-use building consisting of:

• a 3 storey podium with three (3) retail units on the lower & upper ground level;
• a retail grocery store on the upper ground & mezzanine level;
two residential towers containing a total of 319 dwelling units (market rental);
[21 and 23 storeys high, plus rooftop structures. The City’s published information does not state this very prominently.]
• 3 levels common underground parking, accessed off Davie St and the rear lane; and
• Total floor area of 28,405m2.

Under the site’s existing C5-A zoning, the application is “conditional” so it may be permitted; however, it requires the decision of the DPB set for this date:

Development Permit Board
3 pm, Monday, May 2, 2016
Town Hall Meeting Room (1st Floor, City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue).

Provide comments by filling out the City’s online comment form. Continue reading

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Providence Lands (St. Paul’s Hospital) Policy Planning Program: Jan 20 (Wed) at City Council. Speakers invited.

stpauls(Update, with WEN comment at bottom.)

The City has been circulating the following note. We share it here, as it an important matter for the West End. Note that this is not a discussion about whether to move the hospital. (It has already been decided that the location on Burrard Street will close and a new hospital built in False Creek.) This meeting is a part of work the City is doing to plan for the new and old locations. Here is your opportunity to provide input to Mayor and Council.

Providence Lands (St. Paul’s Hospital) Policy Planning Program
 
The above-noted Policy Report dated January 7, 2016, will be considered by Vancouver City Council at its meeting on:
DATE:
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
TIME:
9:30 am
PLACE:
Council Chamber
Third Floor, City Hall
 
If you wish further information on this matter, please contact Kevin McNaney at 604.871.6851. If you wish further information on the meeting, please call Leslie Tuerlings at 604.873.7015.
You may also communicate your thoughts on the issue to the Mayor and Councillors by emailing mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca and we will ensure Council receives all correspondence before the matter is considered.
For your information, all meetings of Council are webcast and can be viewed at: http://civic.neulion.com/cityofvancouver/ .The minutes for this meeting can be viewed at: http://vancouver.ca/councilmeetings approximately two days following the meeting.
____________________
City Clerk’s Office
City of Vancouver
Email: speaker.request@vancouver.ca
***************

COMMENT FROM WEST END NEIGHBOURS

Please note that with it’s Regular Council meeting on January 20, the City is not actually undertaking a planning process for the “old St. Paul’s site” (the current site on Burrard) although that is the piece of the puzzle that is of most interest to WEN. Right now what the City is focusing on is the policy framework around accommodating the new False Creek hospital location.  The City is also participating in the conversation being conducted by Providence Health Care and the Province around how health care services may continue to be provided to the West End. The loss of the medical and health services and employment that St. Paul’s Hospital provided for over a century is a significant loss and disappointment to many people in the West End neighbourhood, which under the new West End Community Plan is set grow by 10,000 people with many new tower developments. WEN hopes that that some medical and health services will remain on the site to serve the community. The real and full discussion about re-development of the current site on Burrard is anticipated to come (presumably) much later.

Additional note by West End Neighbours:

Please also note that this meeting is NOT a discussion about whether to move the hospital. That has been decided already. The focus for West Enders should be on those aspect of the policy recommendations, as noted in the report:

THAT Council direct staff to collaborate with Providence and Vancouver Coastal Health on robust public consultation on the relocation and transformation of St Paul’s Hospital, generally as outlined in the Public Consultation Strategy in Appendix B, with the following objectives:

i. On the current St Paul’s site (“Burrard Street Site”), City staff should participate in the Providence/Vancouver Coastal Health clinical services planning process on health care services required in the West End and across the Downtown area, and report back to Council on consultation outcomes, including any issues that arise related to the future redevelopment of the site. (Note: Providence is not proceeding with redevelopment of the Burrard Street Site at this time)

**************

Excerpt of note from City of Vancouver, West End Planning

The report seeks Council’s approval of a policy planning program for the movement of St Paul’s Hospital from Burrard Street (“Burrard Street Site”) to a state-of-the-art, integrated care and research hospital and health campus in the False Creek Flats (“Station Street Site”).

The planning program will include a robust public consultation on the future of the Station Street Site and related expectations for local health care service delivery in the West End and across the Downtown area.

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Will Urban Design Panel for 21-storey tower at 1750 Pendrell (Wed, Jan 13) address harsh laneway elevation?

 

1772-1774 or 1750 Pendrell, lane view, UDP docs, 13-Jan-2016

Caption: The West End Community Plan adopted in 2013 was intended to “activate” the neighbourhood’s laneways and make them more comfortable for pedestrians. This image shows how the policy is now being implemented. Imagine the parent and child’s experience here passing concrete walls and ventilation grills.

The Urban Design Panel has 1750 Pendrell Street in Vancouver’s West End on its agenda for January 13, 2016 (Wednesday). (The address for rezoning phases of the process was 1754-1772 Pendrell, but it appears to have been changed to 1750.)

The rezoning on this site for a 21-storey tower for Westbank Projects Corp (architect Henriquez Partners Architects) was approved by City Council on September 15, 2015:
http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/1754-1772pendrell/index.htm

A condition of the rezoning was that the applicant attain a development permit from the city. The design forwarded for the Development Permit application is significantly different than the one presented to the public and considered by City Council as part of the rezoning application. The curved balconies and illuminated “sail” feature on the west facade have been deleted, and the design now proposes rectangular wrap around balconies. The number of rental units in the project has increased from 171 rental units to 173 rental units. The unit mix has changed, with a reduction in 2 bedroom units and an increase in 3 bedroom units, although the lack of floor plans on the City’s website makes it impossible to review the size of the 3 bedroom units proposed. Continue reading

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WEN writes City Council on 2016 Budget & Capital Plan, 5-year plan: More info sought on benefits of Community Plan

CoV photo Vancouver City Council 2015-2018

Vancouver City Council, 2014 to 2018

On December 14, 2015, West End Neighours wrote the following letter Vancouver City Council for its Regular Council meeting set for Tuesday, December 15, to provide requests and input regarding the City’s financial plans, from the perspective of the West End. Council is expected to approve the budget at that meeting. The main theme of the letter is to ask City Hall to provide more information to the community regarding the implementation and benefits of the West End Community Plan, adopted in 2013. We will report back to readers when we receive a response.

**********

Dear Mayor and Council,

We are writing regarding the 2016 Budget and Capital Plan, Five Year Financial Plan, and Property Endowment Fund, from the perspective of the West End.

City Council adopted the West End Community Plan just over two years ago. Since then, we have seen many major tower projects approved or in the pipeline ranging from 20 to 65 storeys, as well as laneway apartment buildings. Those approvals, and more expected in the coming years, will bring thousands more people into the West End, putting increasing demand on community facilities.

We ask Council to provide for residents of the West End to receive an update on what is being delivered for the community through the West End Community Plan.

The 2016 budget documents mention some projects, including a facility for Qmunity, design of the Jim Deva Plaza, and renovations to the Gordon Neighbourhood House, a survey of parking issues, and some attention to further development.

In the bigger context, we ask Council to look into the current status of amenity improvements indicated for the Public Benefits Strategy for the West End Community Plan. When approved, the PBS was estimated to have a value in the range of $585 to $630 million over thirty years, with significant contributions from Development Cost Levies and Community Amenity Contributions. Continue reading

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1550 Alberni (43 storeys, Westbank) goes to Urban Design Panel Dec. 2 (Wed)

1550-Alberni-Street-2 image Kengo Kuma, Westbank, smallWestenders may be interested in knowing that the UDP, an influential advisory body to City Council, will be reviewing an application by Westbank Projects Corp (CEO Ian Gillespie) for a 43-storey tower at 1550 Alberni. Details are as follows.

Urban Design Panel
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Meeting starts at 3 pm, and 1550 Alberni is up at 4:15 pm
Agenda: http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/committees/agenda-urban-design-panel.20151202.pdf

Official details from the agenda follow further below. Three other applications are also being discussed in the meeting, one being the Vancouver Art Gallery.

We have covered this application before: “Pre-application” open house (June 29, 2015), and public open house (November 3, 2015). This UDP meeting is another step toward the rezoning at a Public Hearing at an as-yet unknown date. In some cases, the UDP raises issues for the applicant to address before it comes back a second time for another vote. For more about the UDP please visit the official City page here.

4:15 pm Address: 1550 Alberni Street
Description: To construct a 43-storey mixed-use building, including 188 residential units with retail at grade.
Zoning: DD to CD-1
Application Status: Rezoning Application
Review: First
Architect: Merrick Architecture (Greg Borowski)
Staff: Linda Gillan and Colin King

Continue reading

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1668 Davie: 23-storey Larco tower on London Drugs lot, approval slated Nov 30 (Mon) at Development Permit Board

1668 Davie 23storey tower view London Drugs looking SE, labelled

Location of existing buildings, parking lot, and Larco’s proposed 23-storey tower

A proposal by Larco Investments (no website – 331750 BC Ltd.) is at the final stage of approval at the Development Permit Board on Monday, November 30, 2015, starting at 3 pm, at Vancouver City Hall. The meeting is open to the public and the agenda for the meeting is here. Members of the public are permitted to address the DPB. Please see the City website for information on how to write or speak to the DPB.

This is the second of four new towers on the same block. 1188 Bidwell was the first. The Davie and Cardero Safeway tower redevelopment is next. Be prepared for construction noise and traffic disruptions for the next few years.

All this development was unleashed by the West End Community Plan adopted in 2013. City Council pre-zoned the area so that no public hearing is required. The Board cannot deny a development if it meets the zoning requirements, “official development plan,” and guidelines.

 

West End Neighbours has reported on this application before, with some analysis here:
https://westendneighbours.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/1668-davie-1225-cardero-23-storeys/

The City’s website now carries information about the application, including the staff report on public input and comments received, and the recommendation to approve the application for Larco.

Main report: http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/committees/report-dpb-1668-davie-street-DE419443.pdf

Appendix:  http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/committees/report-dpb-1668-davie-street-appendix-d.pdf

 As we have noted before, one outcome of the West End Community Plan is that major tower projects can proceed very quickly from the moment the public first learns about them to the time they are improved by an internal decision of the DPB. Elected officials are completely outside of the formal process in these pre-zoned areas.

The application was submitted to the City of Vancouver on August 15, 2015. The open house to present the information to the public was held October 20 (display panels only, just one-on-one discussion with City staff, and no open discussion or Q&A session). The period for the public to comment on the project was “closed” on October 30, just ten days later. The staff report is dated November 4, just two business days later. That staff report remained secret for three weeks, and was only made public by being posted quietly online in the past few hours (Friday, November 27), with no other notification to the public or people who had provided comments. And now, after the weekend, the Development Permit Board will approve the application on Monday, November 30th. That’s, in effect, on the next business day after the information was made public.

See the “Meetings” tab here:

http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/development-permit-board.aspx

We note that the public is also kept at an information disadvantage in preparing to address the DPB, as the Minutes of the October 7 Urban Design Panel (UDP) review of this project are still not available at this time:

http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/committees/minutes-urban-design-panel-20151007.pdf

Below are some selected and salient excerpts from the staff report based on public input:

“To date, a total of 21 written responses have been received. Two respondents requested additional information about the application, one expressed support for the project, and 16 respondents wrote in either direct opposition or with significant concerns as outlined below. Continue reading

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1540 Haro Street – DE419183. Development application seeks boost from 27 to 31 units, laneway changes. Public input due TODAY, Mon, Nov 23.

1540 Haro, Google street view FRONT Aug 2015

Front view of 1540 Haro Street in the West End. Credit: Google Street View

A resident just today notified WEN of this development application. Today (Monday, Nov 23) is the stated deadline “to be part of the application’s review,” though you can still write the City until the Development Permit Board meeting (which could also be soon).

1540 Haro Street – DE419183
http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/developmentservices/devapps/pc1540haro/index.htm

Comments for the record go to: Vaughan Kopy, Project Coordinator, vaughan.kopy@vancouver.ca, 604.871.6536

The proposal is to create four new dwelling units on the main floor. Total number of units would increase from 27 to 31. Existing open parking at the lane frontage would be enclosed and one might guess that some portion of the parking area would be incorporated into the new dwelling unit area. Parking would decrease to six spaces total for the 31 units.

Because the City posts such marginal information, it is almost impossible to determine what is actually proposed to happen on this site and whether the parking proposed is bylaw compliant.

This is the existing lane (subject building at the right of the photo):
https://goo.gl/maps/JrcKXqiLkup

1540 Haro, Google street view Aug 2015

1540 Haro Street, current lane view. Credit: Google Street View

It is interesting that this was one of the blocks used as part of the “Laneway 2.0” toolkit during the consultation on the West End Community Plan (adopted Nov 2014), which was supposed to improve West End lanes. Ironically, based on this application, the so-called “improvement” to the lane will be converting the existing open parking to steel garage doors. This is clearly not the “pedestrian-friendly, landscaped outcome” that was promised to West Enders.

The site appears to be owned by Gordon Nelson:
http://gordonnelsoninc.com/previous-apartments/1540-haro-street/

Given the limited re-development potential for these currently-affordable 1950s walk-up apartment buildings, the City of Vancouver appears to be setting things up so that over and over again the West End will see evictions, reconstruction, and reconfigurations to increase numbers of units by making them smaller, combined with upgrades with higher-end finishes. Watch for higher rents.

This is potentially a perverse outcome of the West End Community Plan. Watch to see what happens with this application’s approval and eventual outcome.

Our story last week showed how the City’s STIR incentive program, originally supposed to produce “affordable” rentals, produced “The Lauren,” a Westbank tower at Comox and Broughton that is now renting at small two-bedroom for $3,500.  Our local government seems to be having difficulties developing policies that produce truly affordable rentals. Continue reading

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Followup: Is “laneway housing” (infill development) meeting objectives of the West End Community Plan?

laneway house 601-comox-addressed-1071-cardero, ARROWThis is another installment of our ongoing coverage to follow up on the implementation of the West End Community Plan.

Indicating that several laneway apartment buildings are coming to the West End, a reporter recently asked West End Neighbours if the community thinks “laneway housing” is a better way to densify the West End than towers. Or are there some unsuspected issues with this form?

Below is a response from WEN. If a person is looking for binary YES/NO answers, the answers would probably be “not really” and “yes,” respectively.

Until these projects are built, it’s difficult to say whether they will be successful or not. It seems clear that these are not the types of “laneway buildings” that people anticipated through the Plan process. During the process leading to approval of the West End Community Plan in November 2013, the community was generally led to imagine laneway “houses” similar to ones can see in quiet residential lanes elsewhere in Vancouver.

But the reality of what the City is permitting in the lanes of the West End is quite different. And there are many questions about whether or not these buildings will meet many key objectives of the Plan.

Overall the focus on this type of somewhat impractical development seems to have been a distraction from the larger impacts of tower development, as the number of units arising from laneway infill development will likely be very small. Similarly, laneway homes in the rest of the city are unlikely to be solution to providing significant numbers of new housing units (and in some ways are simply increasing the price of existing single family properties). It would seem that the city could benefit from a more comprehensive approach to re-development -– an approach like other municipalities have with an overall official community plan for the entire city. But that is probably part of a larger discussion.

Below we delve into further detail. Continue reading

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Followup: “Unaffordable” rental housing created at The Lauren, 1501 Broughton (formerly 1401 Comox, St. John’s Church)

The Lauren 15-Nov-2015

Photo credit: Craigslist and The Lauren

(Updated) Any organization should monitor the outcomes of its decisions. The conclusion below is that at “The Lauren,” the City did not create “affordable rental housing” for the West End community. In fact, quite the contrary.

As you read this, here are two questions to keep in mind:
1. Should our municipal government be giving developers generous incentives like waivers of development cost levies, and large increases in density, to create expensive luxury rental housing like this?
2. Should the city be doing more to monitor rents being charged for buildings built with these developer incentive programs, to help guide future policy decisions around rental incentives and community planning processes?

In June 2012, City Council approved the rezoning and development of this former site of St. John’s Church to build a blockbuster 22-storey rental tower at the corner of Broughton and Comox Streets in the West End. At the time, West End Neighbours told City Council that if the rezoning application by Westbank Projects Corp. was approved, it would create some of the most expensive rental housing in the West End…and as you can see below, WEN was right! One could say that the City failed to created affordable housing on this site.

Not only did the developer get a good deal, the community also got hosed, receiving less than it should have in Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) and Development Cost Levies (DCLs).

Tenants first occupied the building in September 2014, so now, just over a year later, we are starting to see some turnover, and rents being advertised. See this listing on Craigslist (full text copied further below)
http://vancouver.craigslist.ca/van/apa/5314948571.html

The listing indicates a monthly rent of $3,450 for a two-bedroom apartment. The first thing to note is that it appears the square footage represents false advertising, as the plans approved by City Council indicate this unit as having 843 square feet, not the 1,000 square feet advertised in Craigslist. See staff report on the project: http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120515/documents/p1.pdf.

So, it appears that the listing is not providing prospective renters correct information about the unit’s size.

Now as for “affordability,” if we use the unit’s true and approved area of 843 square feet, this works out to rent being at $4.09 per square foot.

Compare this with the range of $2.00 to $2.96 per square foot that senior planners, under supervision of the Director of Planning, wrote in the staff recommendation for City Council to approve the project in 2012. Page 14: Continue reading

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