Tenants at Beach Towers in Vancouver’s West End received this letter from owner Devonshire Properties. This is major news for the neighbourhood as well as tenants of 607 rental apartments in four towers (19 to 21 storeys) on two sites where the work was slated to happen — 1600 Beach Avenue and 1651 Harwood Street.
By way of background, after a controversial public hearing and considerable public opposition in February 2013, Vancouver City Council had approved a rezoning at this site to add 133 rental units under the STIR developer incentive program. Below are some images of the current and proposed buildings.
The reasons for the change in plans are not publicly known at this time, but these words by one tenant probably express the relief being felt in the area: “Most residents are deeply relieved, especially those who have lived a long time in the complex. The demolition and infill construction of a mid-rise, low-rise and town houses on all available open space on both sides of Harwood would have been intolerable, forcing many to move, as well as casting a dark blight on the entire neighbourhood.”
The company’s website starts with this: “People first. That has been the guiding philosophy behind Devonshire Properties since 1959.” Perhaps they have taken their philosophy to heart.
Devonshire has poured a significant amount of money into the rezoning, design, and application process. The voices of opposition expressed concerns about heritage loss, demolition/construction disruptions, scenic view loss, shadowing, expensive costs for future renters, the consultation/approval process, and many other impacts. Some even wrote to the Planning Institute of British Columbia complaining about the City’s planning department (particularly the head planner), seeking sanctions.
Below is the text of the letter to tenants.
DATE: June 5, 2015
TO: ALL TENANTS OF BEACH TOWERS
BEACH TOWERS CONSTRUCTION IS NOT PROCEEDING
Devonshire Properties has decided not to proceed with the construction of the new rental units and new recreation centre proposed for Beach Towers. As a result, there will be no demolition activity, nor any requirement to relocate tenants’ parking stalls and storage lockers at this time.
Should the project be reactivated, ample notification will be provided and tenant information meetings will be held.
We look forward to continuing our maintenance and improvement plans for the Beach Towers’ property and wish all our tenants a wonderful summer.
BEACH TOWERS PROPERTIES
Devonshire Properties Inc.