19-storey tower proposal at 1177 (now 1171) Jervis goes to Development Permit Board today (Mon, May 4)

1301-Davie_2 side vew proposed 19 storeysThis is the first tower development to get to the approval stage  in the West End after the Novembr 2013 adoption of the West End Community Plan. The way this is handled is likely a sign of how the City and developers will interpret the Community Plan in the coming decades.

Monday, May 4, 2015 at 3 pm this proposal for 1177 Jervis Street (corner of Davie and Jervis) goes to the Development Permit Board for final approval. (Original addresses for this site were 1301, 1309, and 1315 Davie Street. Also, formal address appears to have been changed to 1171 Jervis Street. The staff report was posted online on about April 29.)

1301-Davie location photo

Development Permit Board
Monday, May 3, 2015, starting 3 pm
Agenda: Here
Staff report download: Here (20 MB, in PDF format)

The staff report lists “issues”:

  • Demolition of character houses
  • Social housing unit mix
  • Building height
  • Private view analysis
  • Tenant relocation plan

Our previous article provides some analysis.  Excerpt: “It is interesting to note the City’s speed of processing this application. It received an application for this large high rise development on a site with heritage interest, processed it and scheduled approval 12 weeks later on May 4th without a Public Hearing. The West End Community Plan and subsequent “pre-zoning” has made this possible.” Full article here:

1177 JERVIS STREET – DE418742 – ZONE RM-5D
Applicant: Intracorp Jervis Ltd. Partners
Property Owner: Terrapoint Developments Ltd.
Design: NSDA Architects and Richard Henry Architects
Request: To develop this site with a 19 storey mixed used building with one level of Commercial (first floor) and 19 levels of residential (1st to 19th floors) containing 91 dwelling units (63 Market/28 Social Housing) all over three levels of underground parking, having vehicular access from the lane.
Staff: Colin King

No public hearing or rezoning was required for this project. That step was eliminated as a result of changes to zoning shortly after the West End Community Plan was adopted in November 2013. We believe a large amount of public input has gone to the City regarding this application. The DPB is a small board, consisting of four City staff. To what extent has public input been incorporated? The project also benefits from a newly adopted definition of “social housing.” This project would never have happened at this site without the West End Community Plan.

Here are some of our observations:

  • Social Housing: The proposal suggests it is creating 28 Social Housing units. Under the City’s new definition of “social housing” only one third of these units (9 of them) are required to rent at the Province of British Columbia’s “Housing Income Limits” which are based on the commonly-accepted maximum rent of 30% of household income. Rents for the other 19 units of “social housing” are unknown but are not tied to the BC Housing Income Limit rent levels. It is likely these units will rent for far more than the existing rental accommodation on the site.
  • Lanes: A key aspect of the West End Plan – one highlighted repeatedly by City staff – was the opportunities for improvements to the West End’s rear lanes. While a narrow landscape strip is proposed along the rear lane of this project, the building itself presents a collection of emergency exits, blank walls, ventilation grills, and loading and vehicle access areas. This hardly seems to be the “pedestrian-friendly” type of improvements that the West End Plan offered.
  • Notification: The City has confirmed that renter households – the vast majority of households in all directions from this site – were not notified directly of this development proposal . While the signs on the site indicate the date of the information meeting for the project, they do not indicate the date of the Development Permit Board meeting where this project is to be considered – a meeting which the public has a legal right to attend and at which to make submissions. WEN believes that improvements need to take place to the City’s notification procedures for developments that will impact the lives of so many West Enders, the majority of them renters.

Some more points:

  • The market-priced condo units and “social housing” units are proposed to different identities, separate entrances, and separate amenities. The “social housing” entrance will be on Davie, while condo residents will enter on Jervis.
  • In March, the urban design panel unanimously supported the project.
  • The northwest corner of the site currently has three old rooming houses, which do not have heritage protection.
  • In March,  City staff told the Vancouver Heritage Commission that retention of the houses would not be viable, given the allowable development under the “existing zoning” on the site. As a result, the Commission made no objection to the development, but asked that some heritage elements be considered in the design. (In effect, we can “thank” the West End Community Plan for facilitating the destruction of these houses, to replaced by some heritage “elements.”)
  • Going back, Heritage Vancouver had noted the buildings on this site as being of concern in their “Top Ten” endangered lists of 2012:
    http://www.heritagevancouver.org/topten/2012/topten2012_08.htmlAnd again in 2013:
  • Some scrutiny is needed of the “view impact analyses” in the staff report. Some of them conclude that the impacts are minimal — but they are taken from penthouses of buildings that are taller than the proposed building. Impact analysis should be done for the many people who will actually have their views blocked.
  • Documents with the West End Plan call for “sculpted towers,” meaning thinner at the top to reduce view impacts. This proposed tower is a bulky block shape, not sculpted.
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