Two more West End towers headed to Public Hearings: Council to see referral reports Sept 21 for 47 storeys (1157 Burrard at Davie), 49 storeys (1450 West Georgia at Nicola)

Vancouver City Council on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, will receive two “referral reports” relevant to the West End. Staff are recommending that two rezoning applications go into the pipeline for Public Hearings — a 47-storey (469 feet) condo tower at 1157 Burrard Street (current site of the community garden at Burrard & Davie), and a 49-storey (497 feet) mixed condo/market-priced rental tower at 1450 West Georgia (location W Georgia and Nicola).

At this meeting, Council can make a few comments or ask questions of staff, but the next opportunity for public comment is at the Public Hearing, likely to occur within several weeks.

This is a heads up for West Enders who have followed the implementation of the West End Community Plan. WEN is still calling on the city to produce a comprehensive report for City Council and for our community on WECP implementation. How many apartment and condo units have been lost and gained since the plan was adopted in 2013? Who knows?

Below are the two items. Anyone interested is encouraged to review the PDFs of the referral reports. Further details of the rezonings can be found in the referral reports (copied below) and at ShapeYourCity.ca. You are encouraged to write or speak to Council if you have any comments or concerns.

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CD-1 Rezoning: 1157 Burrard Street – (West End) Current site of Burrard & Davie Community Garden site in the West End, 47-storey condo, 469 ft height, 13.37 FSR (exceeding the Higher Buildings Policy of 375 ft). By having a “community garden” on the site, this developer has saved millions of dollars in property taxes (putting the burden on other taxpayers) by while the land value skyrocketed. The height is far above what was originally envisioned by the already-high “Higher Buildings Policy” adopted under Vision Vancouver. Enabled by the West End Community Plan, adopted in 2013 under Vision Vancouver.

  • – 289 units, 271 parking spaces
  • – $10.6 million cash proposed as Community Amenity Contribution (CAC), cultural amenity space
    – 1,466 sq. m, 37 childcare spaces
  • – Issues – significant shadowing, impacts

WEN – https://westendneighbours.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/47-storeys-proposed-1157-davie/
CHW – https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/special-topics/higher-buildings-downtown/expert-analysis/davie-burrard-in-west-end/
From 2011 – https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/375-tower-at-davie-and-burrard/

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CD-1 Rezoning: 1450 West Georgia Street (West End) at West Georgia and Nicola, a 49-storey, 497 ft mixed condo/market rental tower (162 rental / 193 condo), FSR 14.14. Another one being enabled by the West End Community Plan. $8.9 million cash is proposed as the Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) – supposedly all for amenities in the West End. This needs follow-up. Below is a review of the referral report by a core member of WEN.

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Introducing the ‘Imagine West End Waterfront project’

The Imagine West End Waterfront team has shared information with WEN regarding consultation on the “Imagine West End Waterfront” project.

The team is working with the Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver on a project looking at the future of “the West End’s iconic Salish Sea oceanfront parks, beaches, and streets.” The project is just getting underway and will be ongoing for the next two years.

Opportunities to get involved include participating on a project Community Advisory Group, taking part in an on-line discussion (Community Conversation), direct interviews, and activities the team will be organizing in the community and project area.

As a project, Imagine West End Waterfront will engage residents, businesses, organizations from the West End and across Vancouver to create a high level plan for the area that:

• Supports Vancouver’s commitment to reconciliation and decolonization
• Improves neighbourhood connectivity and access
• Upgrades services, facilities, and infrastructure
• Accommodates anticipated population growth and increased demand on the area
• Restores shoreline habitats and supports the ecological revitalization of the area
• Addresses climate change, sea level rise and improves the resilience of the area

The West End Community Plan (approved in 2013) identified potential needs for long-term improvements to the transportation system, parks, and public spaces in the area to support the growth in the West End. The project study area overlaps a network of parks and streets that make up a total of approximately 95 acres (38 hectares).

The project will also be working closely with Indigenous rights holders (Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations).

For e-mail contact, please write WestEndWaterfront@vancouver.ca. Project managers are Jordan McAuley, Park Board Planner and Sam Khany, City of Vancouver Senior Transportation Planner.

The project website is at vancouver.ca/west-end-waterfront.

Poster

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City to launch public process on ‘West End Community Hub Renewal Plan’ (West End Community Centre, King George Secondary School, Joe Fortes Library, other civic facilities)

Google aerial view showing subject area for “West End Community Hub”

The West End Community Plan was adopted by City Council in November 2013. One key feature of the plan was using the significant revenues expected from new developments enabled by the plan to improve public amenities, with 10,000 new residents originally expected over the 30-year life of the plan.

That’s why it’s nice to see that now in 2021 a team has been created at the City of Vancouver named “West End Connect” (W.E. Connect) and there are plans in store for public consultation to launch on September 21, 2021, for planning on what is now being called the West End Community Hub (see timeline for plan development below, right).

Some people received an e-mail on August 23, 2021 from “West End Connect” at the City of Vancouver (see below for a copy of the text).

It includes this link to the City’s public input portal: https://shapeyourcity.ca/weconnect.

West End Neighbours encourages residents and groups to check in on this project from time to time, sign up for updates, and get involved.

Excerpt from W.E. Connect web page:

To support this renewal, the City of Vancouver, Vancouver School Board, Vancouver Public Library, and the Vancouver Park Board are seeking input from the community to reimagine the site that currently houses the West End Community Centre, King George Secondary School, Joe Fortes Library, and other important facilities. This work will build on directions from the City of Vancouver’s West End Community Plan and the Vancouver School Board’s Long Range Facilities Plan.

The result will be a document that details a shared vision for the future of the buildings, programming and outdoor spaces at the site.

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Revised rezoning application: 36-storey tower at 1065 Harwood and 1332 Thurlow (Bosa/Henriquez) . Virtual open house ends 31-May-2021. Public comments.

Rendering – subject tower is on the left. A separate revised application is likely to come soon for the tower on the right. Image Henriquez Partners Architects.


For details see https://shapeyourcity.ca/1065-harwood-street-and-1332-thurlow-street

HAVE YOUR SAY on this proposed 36-storey tower, one of two twin towers at 1065 Harwood and 1332 Thurlow.

Deadline at this public comment phase is May 31, 2021. To see previous public comments and responses, click on the “Ask a Question” tab at the bottom of the Shape Your City page. (We have excerpted some further below, for the record.) To send your comments, click on “Send Your Comments” on Shape Your City.

The proposal is for the development of a 36-storey residential building (including roof access, mechanical and outdoor area) [up from 33 storeys in previous application].

There is a narrative behind this revised rezoning application.

Upon request from the developers in the fall of 2020, Council changed the West End Community Plan to save the developers from potential huge losses due to tougher market conditions for luxury condos and stagnated presales. Their previous profit model was broken. This application is coming back now with changes to 100% rental, three extra storeys, 16 feet more in height, an increase from 10.46 to 13.1 FSR, and an increase from 157 to 288 units.

This revised rezoning application includes:

  • 288 rental units (with 231 market rental units and 57 below-market rental units, totalling 288 units) [versus 59 luxury market condos units and 98 “social housing” units in previous application, totaling 157 units]
  • A floor space ratio (FSR) of 13.1 [up from previous application at 10.46]
  • A floor area of 21,033 sq. m (226,400 sq. ft.)
  • A building height of 96.3 m (316 ft.) [up from 91.4 or 300 ft.]
  • Building height sought is 36 storeys [up from 33 storeys]
  • Seven levels [up from five levels] of underground parking with 151 vehicle parking spaces, 11 accessible spaces, 534 Class A bicycle parking spaces and 15 Class B bicycle parking spaces.
  • The application is being considered under the “Criteria for 100% Secured Rental and Below-Market Housing as an Alternative to Inclusionary Social Housing” in the Burrard Corridor.

NOTE: A rezoning application was submitted in 2017 for the same site. The application was withdrawn in 2021.

If you missed the deadline of May 31 to post your Q&A, you can still contact these people:
Applicant: Kyle Wright, Project lead, Bosa Properties, Tel 604-801-7023, kwright@bosa.com

Rezoning Planner: Thien Phan, City of Vancouver, Tel Phone 604-829-9225, thien.phan@vancouver.ca

After May 31, the question portion online is closed, but comments can still be submitted via emails or phone call to the rezoning planner.

WEN comments: The developers abandoned their first attempts to build condo towers on these lots because they couldn’t make enough money on presales. Now they are trying to construct high-end buildings they will likely market to high-end renters and charge high-end rent. Details will come out in a few months in the staff report to City Council, a referral report seeking to go ahead to a Public Hearing.

Are developers offering anything to the neighbourhood? That is not clear at the moment. It appears to include no public benefits, common areas or greenspace.

Existing buildings at these sites are two storeys. Many (most? all?) existing tenants have been evicted for the development, which was enabled by the West End Community Plan. Developer Bosa and architect Henriquez Partners Architects had previously filed a rezoning application for this site (north tower). The original proposal, withdrawn in April 2021 was for a 33-storey tower, with the rezoning sought to change from RM-5A (Residential) to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development), including 59 market residential units on floors 18-33 [ave 3.8 units per floor], and 98 “social housing” units (under the City of Vancouver’s fraught definition – see “An update on Vancouver’s bizarre definition of ‘social housing’“) on floors 2-18 [ave. 5.8 units per floor]. The original proposed floor space ratio (FSR) was 10.46, and proposed building height 91.4 m (300 ft.), with five levels of underground parking having 157 vehicle parking stalls and 197 bicycle parking spaces.

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Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Revised rezoning application: 36-storey tower at 1065 Harwood and 1332 Thurlow (Bosa/Henriquez) . Virtual open house ends 31-May-2021. Public comments.

West End blanketed by proposed changes to Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan (Public Hearing tonight 10-Dec/Thurs)

Areas in the West End affected by the staff proposed changes are coloured in dark green. What are the real implications? How many sites are affected? What are the risks to housing security?

It has just come to our attention attention that an item going to the Public Hearing tonight, Thursday, December 10, 2020, basically affects zoning across about 90% of the West End. City staff have prepared an item entitled “Amendment to the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan” which they refer to as a “minor amendment” and yet 13 neighbourhoods across Vancouver are affected, including most of the West End. We can vouch for the fact that there has been absolutely no outreach from the City to the West End regarding these changes.

If the staff really aim to get item #7 (CD-1 Rezoning: 349 East 6th Avenue) approved, the wisest thing might be for Council to only allow the changes for that one specific site. And as the City is in the midst of a citywide planning initiative known as Vancouver Plan, include the other areas in consultation on the citywide plan.

What are the implications of the proposed changes in the West End? There has been no analysis. Are there risks for existing renters? How many sites are affected? Could the proposed changes result in more renovictions or displacement?

Reference:

Zones affected: RM-2, RM-3, RM-3A, RM-4, RM-4N, RM-5, RM-5A, RM-5B, RM-5C, RM-5D, RM-6, FM-1). West End is in bold.

Here is what staff are recommending.
THAT Council approve the application to amend the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan (RHS ODP) By-law and to amend the RM-2, RM-3, RM-3A, RM-4,
RM-4N, RM-5, RM-5A, RM-5B, RM-5C, RM-5D, RM-6, and FM-1 District Schedules of
the Zoning and Development By-law, to allow for one-for-one replacement of existing rental housing units required by the RHS ODP on another site, that was subject to the RHS ODP before it was rezoned to allow for replacement housing and that is adjacent to the contiguous area of the zoning district of the site that requires the replacement housing, generally as presented in Appendix A and Appendix B of the Referral Report dated October 20, 2020, entitled “Amendment to the Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan”.

There are potential risks with what staff are proposing. Could it open up the West End to the buying, trading and selling of protected rental stock between different sites with different district schedules? Perhaps.

The big point is that staff are asking Council to approve changes to zoning in the West End without having done the slightest public consultation and analysis of impacts, including threats to housing security for all.

 

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55-storey tower planned for Haro Street (overlooking Robson): Online open house 14-Dec-2020 (Mon)

The UrbanYVR website, which follows developments in Vancouver, reported on December 6, 2020, that another big tower is planned for the West End, enabled by the 2013 West End Community Plan.

This one is on Haro Street, between Burrard and Thurlow, just a block south of Robson Street.

55-storey tower planned for Haro Street site overlooking Robson
https://www.urbanyvr.com/55-storey-tower-city-view/

The proposal includes:

  • One 55-storey tower
  • One 15-storey tower
  • 42,000 square feet of retail space
  • A 49-space daycare
  • Total 516 units (450 strata condo and 66 rental units)

Two virtual open houses are planned.

Monday, December 14, 2020 – 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Monday, December 14, 2020 – 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

To attend, please visit the website and sign up. The proponents have created a project website (www.1045harostreet.com). Please visit here if you wish to join the online open house. The project team will provide a presentation followed by a moderated question and answer session. Note that this event is one is organized by the proponents to get early input. The rezoning open house by the City will come later. See the screen grab of the project timeline below. More project information will be available for download from this website on Dec 14.

The current main building on the site was formerly a strata condo building less than 30 years old. The owners were bought out and the building converted to rental. UrbanYVR says that in 2017, the strata component 1045 Haro Street sold for $164,750,000 (BC Assessment).

This proposal is made possible only as as a result of the West End Community Plan, which allows for building heights up to 550 feet in “Burrard Corridor E”  (p. 50 of West End Community Plan).

Proponents include Intracorp, Forseed Group (no website, but appears to be Shanghai-based; according to D&B, it has 4 employees and sales of $1.23 million) and CM Partners (Singapore-based equity firm, which also bought into the Grouse Mountain Resort).

The architect is not yet announced. The promotions appear to be organized by Pooni Group, one of a special breed of real estate consulting firms and rezoning fixers.

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WEN writes Council opposing proposed changes to West End Community Plan (Burrard Corridor) November 24, 2020

Two zones in Burrard Corridor (West End Community Plan area) where developers want City to waive CACs and DCLs (CoV report)

This important topic goes before City Council on November 24, 2020.

West End Neighbours has sent a letter (full text further below) to Vancouver City Council to oppose what planning staff are recommending. Other residents are encouraged to provide their comments to Council about this staff proposal (see our Council contact page, and also use the City’s agenda page).

Kenneth Chan of Daily Hive has written an overview of what staff are proposing: Excerpt – 

“Downtown developers could be given option to build rentals instead of social housing,” by Kenneth Chan, 20-Nov-2020 (Click here – https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/vancouver-west-end-burrard-corridor-temporary-flexible-rental-housing). Excerpt: City of Vancouver staff are taking a “glass half full” approach in a bid to move forward stalled major market residential tower redevelopments [note – this means strata condo] in downtown Vancouver’s West End that are currently mandated to include a social housing component. In a report, city staff are recommending city council to permit a temporary policy of considering rezoning applications for 100% secured rental housing ... Financial community amenity contribution (CACs) requirements that would be required for a condominium development project would not apply... Furthermore, the path of a secured market rental project with at least 20% below-market rents could qualify for a waiver of citywide development cost levies…

LETTER FROM WEN TO CITY COUNCIL, 23-Nov-2020

Dear Mayor and Council:

It was with some surprise that West End Neighbours learned of Agenda Item 5 to be considered at Council’s meeting of November 24, 2020: “Criteria for 100% Secured Rental and Below-Market Housing as an Alternative to Inclusionary Social Housing in the Burrard Corridor of the West End Community Plan.”

West End Neighbours has been involved with development issues in the West End throughout the consultation process on the West End Community Plan (WECP) and its adoption by Council in the fall of 2013. The proposal to adjust the application of the provisions of the WECP to address requests from the development industry is not something that West End Neighbours supports.

The summary in the staff report makes it clear that “development uptake” on the 30 year term of the WECP has been faster than anticipated. If current economics mean a modest decrease in the current “development rodeo” in the West End then that should be considered a positive situation, not something to be manipulated for the benefit of property purchasers who jumped to participate in a hyper-inflated real estate market.

The proposal as presented includes the substitution of market and below-market rental units for truly-affordable and highly-needed social housing. The proposal is fundamentally flawed, and it is surprising that the concept has made its way to a Council agenda package. Developments approved in the Burrard Corridor, some of which are under construction, will create social housing units that are owned by the city. The current proposal would waive Community Amenity Contributions and allow the creation of privately-owned below market rentals. These types of housing are not interchangeable – they are fundamentally different. Continue reading

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1116-1140 Pendrell Street, 18 storey condo tower planned near Nelson Park. Public input deadline Nov 16.

1116 Pendrell rendering by applicant

 

Public input is sought on a development application, with the “virtual open house” online ending Nov. 15, 2020 (Sun), and the official deadline for public input via the website being Nov. 16 (Mon). [*But see note below.]

This application would mean demolition/eviction of an existing 16-unit rental building and an existing 43-unit strata condo building. It would result in two 3-storey buildings with a straight one-to-one replacement of the 16 rental units (so no increase in rental units, and no constraints on rental prices), plus an 18 storey tower with 109 strata condo units. The proposed condo tower does not really comply with the current zoning and design guidelines for the West End. 

Our post is just two days before the deadline for input, but this may still be a good opportunity for West Enders to look not only at this specific proposal, but also at how the City of Vancouver is (1) communicating with West End residents and (2) implementing the West End Community Plan. Whatever you think about this particular project, it shows how the the WECP, adopted in 2013 under Vision Vancouver, now allows the city to largely circumvent public input and has moved development decisions far away from public scrutiny and direct monitoring and accountability by our elected officials on City Council. All considered, has the WECP enabled good developments that benefit the community? And on top of that, the City is currently engaged in Vancouver Plan, a citywide planning process. Since the planning department is at the center of all this, what are the implications if the West End experience is extended to the entire city once the Vancouver Plan is eventually adopted?

Here is the official project info (including rational, maps, renderings, and a 3D video), plus the form for public input, on the City of Vancouver’s virtual open house page:
https://shapeyourcity.ca/1116-pendrell-st

DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – 1116 Pendrell St (DP-2020-00054)

  • The site is currently home to a market rental building with 16 units and a strata residential building with 43 units. Both would be demolished to make way for the new project.
  • Skyllen Pacific Real Estate Ltd. has applied to the City to build two 3-storey buildings (16 units total, market rentals) and one 18-storey strata condo building (109 units).
  • Height of condo tower 53.3 m (175 feet)
  • The net FSR is 3.025 for all three buildings on the combined site, which includes 2.75 FSR plus 0.275 FSR as a 10% heritage transfer bonus from an undisclosed site. The FSR of the tower if counted alone is not stated.
  • Four levels of underground parking with vehicular access from lane.
  • The official site says that “under the site’s existing RM-5B zoning, the application is “conditional” so it may be permitted. However, it requires the decision of the Development Permit Board.”  (Click here if you care to read the fine print of RM-5B zoning.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

CONTACTS

  • Visit vancouver.ca/dp-board to learn more about the new “virtual” Development Permit Board process and participation options.
  • Contact Payam Fouladianpour, Project Facilitator, regarding this specific application:
    604.873.7663 or payam.fouladianpour @vancouver.ca
  • Contact Mayor and Council if you have concerns about the implementation of the West End Community Plan: Click here.
  • Contact Council and/or the four-member internal Development Permit Board if you have concerns about the consultation process for this application: dpb.info@vancouver.ca

*Note: The official deadline for public input via the website is Nov. 16 (Mon), but nothing can stop concerned residents from contacting Mayor and Council, members of the Development Permit Board, and the project facilitator any time right up to and including the DPB decision date three months later, on Feb. 8, 2021 (Mon). Below is a summary of the application, plus a bit of commentary.

OUR COMMENTARY Continue reading

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Unit in Westbank rental tower at 1770 Pendrell on Craigslist at $4,975 a month, $2,125 above the proposed rent when rezoning was approved

(Updated 27-Jul-2020) It is important to follow-up on major developments to see how they are performing for residents and the neighbourhood.

A [correction] 19-storey tower proposal for a luxury condo at this specific site in 2007 (original address 1754-1772 Pendrell, now 1770 Pendrell) set off a chain of events like a firestorm. That brings us to today.

The “Save the West End Town Hall Meeting” held by a former residents’ association at the then Coast Plaza Hotel in April 2008 was attended by over 500 people. The unanimously-adopted resolution included request to the City to put a moratorium on new tower construction. At the meeting, Councillor Tim Stevenson, appealing for more votes to boost his civic party (Vision Vancouver) from a minority to a majority in the 2008 civic election, asked for votes and promised to fight for the requested moratorium. Vision Vancouver ended up with a huge majority in the election. Eventually this tower proposal was dropped but many more kept popping up. Amid the controversy, West End Neighbours was created and launched a petition in 2009, and garnered over 13,000 signatures by 2013, calling on the City to put an end to spot rezonings and instead to develop a comprehensive plan through meaningful consultation. Mayor Gregor Robertson put a hold on rezonings but only while the Community Plan process was underway. The West End Community Plan, eventually adopted in November 2013, no longer permitted new towers along Denman Street in this part of the West End (but opened the door wide open for towers of virtually unlimited heights and densities along Georgia/Alberni, Burrard/Thurlow, and Davie Street, and reduced tower separation restrictions, among other changes). Meanwhile, the Pendrell site had been quietly purchased by Westbank Projects Corp (CEO Ian Gillespie), and the tower proposal came back to life, this time as a rental building, with the 21-storey concept grandfathered in for supposedly having been in play before the West End Community Plan. Local residents filed a petition in B.C Supreme Court to stop the project, and lost. See a more complete history here, plus links to previous WEN articles further below.

One justification for the Council approval of the rezoning at the Public Hearing of July 13, 2015, was that this building would provide much-needed family-oriented rental housing.

However, as of today, July 24, 2020, with the building now open for occupancy, a three-bedroom unit is listed on Craiglist at $4975 a month, far above the proposed rent of $2850 that was indicated to City Council to justify the rezoning in 2015.

https://vancouver.craigslist.org/van/apa/d/vancouver-d255-brand-new-3-bedroom-in/7155829510.html

It is important to note that City of Vancouver staff worked hard to justify this Westbank rental building in their June 2015 Report to Council:
http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20150623/documents/p5.pdf

The table that staff included outlined the “proposed rents” by the applicant (Westbank/Henriquez) for the project (see red circle for 3-bedroom units at $2,850):

 

 

If you pull out a calculator, you will find that at $4975 a month, the three bedroom unit currently listed on Craiglist is $2,125 ([correction] or 75%) higher than (nearly double!) the proposed rent of $2850.

Note that from the trees in the photos, this unit is at a lower level (perhaps 6th floor) in the building. Higher floors will be renting at higher prices, floor by floor, up to the twenty-first floor. And parking is $200 extra (or $230 to park your Tesla).

One might be justified in concluding that the City gave Westbank a deal far more lucrative than planning staff told Vancouver  City Council, the public, and taxpayers.

Our municipal government is trying to respond to the need for more rental housing in Vancouver by using a number of programs, incentives, and deals with developers. But this specific case is just one example showing that follow-up reviews are needed, and that the City needs to take a closer look at the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of those programs.

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Follow up questions. Did the promised Community Amenity Contributions get paid? What are other units in the building being rented at in 2020?

Reference: (Proposed tower in Vancouver’s West End divides community, Carlito Pablo, Georgia Straight, 8-Sep-2015) Excerpt: These 26 units will be replaced with an equal number in the development, with rents 20 percent below the West End average. This means that new residents in these homes will pay $761 a month for a studio, $961 for a one-bedroom, $1,565 for two bedrooms, and $2,428 for three bedroomsThe remaining 152 units will be rented at market rates. A studio will go for $1,250, one bedroom for $1,550, two bedrooms for $2,200, and three bedrooms for $2,850According to a staff report, “when compared to home ownership costs, these rents would provide a more affordable alternative to home ownership.” Staff also advised council that the project “would make a significant contribution towards the City’s overall affordable housing goals”.
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Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Unit in Westbank rental tower at 1770 Pendrell on Craigslist at $4,975 a month, $2,125 above the proposed rent when rezoning was approved

Public Hearing June 25, 2020 (RECONVENING 9:30 am Tue/June 30): 60-storey tower (25 FSR) at 1059-1075 Nelson Street. Inconsistencies with West End Plan, morning shadows for West End.

Shadow study of impacts of Westbank and Henson towers shows that Nelson Park and Lord Roberts Elementary School Annex and playground will be enshrouded in shadows. Park users can forever say good-bye to morning sunshine for much of the year.

Images on this page courtesy of applicant Henson Developments, IBI Group Architects, WKK Architecture

(Update: RECONVENING on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. with applicant presentation, public speakers, council debate + decision)

This major rezoning application went to a virtual Public Hearing on Thursday, June 25, 2020, and will reconvene on June 30 at 9:30 a.m. (On June 25 there was only time for the staff presentation.)

If you have any concerns as a West End resident, we encourage you to write or speak to Council on this major rezoning for a 60-storey tower mid-block on the north side of Nelson Street, between Thurlow and Burrard Streets. Instructions on how to do so are on the official Public Hearing web page.

City Council is currently in the midst of a big rush of public hearings (May 12, 26, 28, June 23, 25, 30, July 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, plus possible reserve dates) before the summer hiatus. The City assumes these electronic meeting (with audio only, and all Councillors joining remotely) are legal under provincial emergency legislation during the COVID-19 pandemic (but could be challenged).

Below are some images and points about the rezoning, plus comments and web links. There is quite a history to this site. The value of the site was unlocked by the West End Community Plan adopted in 2013 under Vision Vancouver, which left the permitted density (and profits) on sites in this corridor virtually unlimited as a huge favour to developers. The location was the subject of dramatic speculation and profit-taking by prominent Vancouver developers, resulting in the current developer, Henson Developments, bringing this proposal forward now.

Public hearing agendas and documents (general info):
https://vancouver.ca/your-government/contact-council-public-hearing.aspx

Virtual (electronic) Public Hearing June 25, 2020 (6 pm start). This application is 4th on the agenda (1059-1075 Nelson Street):
https://council.vancouver.ca/20200625/phea20200625ag.htm

Rezoning application page:
https://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/1075nelson/index.htm

There will be many opinions about such a massive development. Skyscraper and density lovers will support it. The developer has included some green features. Social housing and market rentals are in the proposal. Development Cost Levies and Community Amenity Contributions will bring funds into City coffers. Tenants renovicted from the existing affordable rental units on the site will be anxious to get into the new building once completed. Some housing activists who support any construction anywhere will support this.

But there has been little public discussion about the negative livability, environmental, shadowing, and affordability impacts of such a major development.  It is an expensive, huge and bulky building on such a small site, at nearly 25 FSR for density and 585.5 feet in height.

Here are some points worthy of attention:

  • It is a small site for this kind of density and extreme height, especially given the towers already on that block (and under construction).
  • The proposed Floor Space Ratio of 24.94 may well have the highest density of any building ever approved in Vancouver, and could well be the highest density building ever built on the North American continent. This level of density will have major impacts.
  • It will shade Nelson Park, which is precious and heavily used park space. This is a densely-populated urban community. For mental and physical health, and general livability of the community, bright park space is a must-have. But the proposed tower, combined with others existing and under construction, will cast shadows for many blocks in many directions. The proponent’s shadow studies show that Nelson Park can kiss good-bye to morning sunlight for much of the year. That includes also the children at Lord Nelson Elementary Annex.
  • Despite the “passive house” standards, the amount of energy consumed in demolition, excavation, and construction will be enormous. Digging a hole 100 feet deep for nine levels of underground parking is one example.
  • Under a COVID-19 world, will skyscraper living dependent on elevators for every departure and return ever be the same?
  • There are many discrepancies with provisions of the West End Community Plan for this area.
  • Pages 11 and 12 of the staff Referral Report (April 14, 2020, Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability) merit a close look, particularly regarding floor plate size. During West End Plan consultations in 2012 and 2013, the size of floor plates was a key topic. Since the adoption of the plan, proposals have included endless rationalizations of “averaging” and “exclusions” to justify bulky buildings like the one proposed. Proponents and City staff use these as a strategy to over-ride the objectives of the Plan in order to create more luxury real estate at $3,000 a square foot. We hope that Mayor and Council will query staff in detail on this point. How can West Enders be confident that the West End Community Plan will be followed?
  • The proponent and City staff are also proposing a “zero setback” from Nelson Street for levels 4 through 60 (see Page 12 of the report).
  • Is the creation of hundreds more luxury condos the best way to advance housing opportunities in Vancouver? Who is the target for sales of these condos? Whose needs are being served?

Here is a summary of other points of the proposal, courtesy of Kenneth Chan of Daily Hive (heads up – slow to load due to many ads and cookies). Excerpt: Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Public Hearing June 25, 2020 (RECONVENING 9:30 am Tue/June 30): 60-storey tower (25 FSR) at 1059-1075 Nelson Street. Inconsistencies with West End Plan, morning shadows for West End.