23 storey tower proposal at 1668 Davie (1225 Cardero) – west of London Drugs (DE419443) to be reviewed by Urban Design Panel (Wed, Oct 7)

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

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

(Updated) West Enders may wish to take note of this proposal for a 23-storey tower, 1668 Davie Street (1225 Cardero), beside a London Drugs store in Vancouver’s West End. The proponent is Larco Investments (no website – 331750 BC Ltd.) the developer behind the Arbutus Mall expansion in Vancouver and Park Royal Mall in West Vancouver. The tower is proposed at the west end of the site containing the existing “Regency Park” tower and the London Drugs store.

As we mention below, the proposal can be moved very quickly through the approval process with limited public influence on the outcome, as a result of the West End Community Plan adopted in 2013. Other neighbourhoods of Vancouver should take note of what the City’s community planning process has done to public involvement in decisions.

London Drugs, Davie Street. Photo courtesy CityHallWatch

Tower is to go beside London Drugs, Davie Street. Photo courtesy CityHallWatch

City Council’s advisory panel on urban design will be reviewing this proposal on Wednesday, October 7, where the public may attend but only as observers. Other events are listed below.

Urban Design Panel, October 7, 2015 (Wednesday), starting 4 pm
Place: Town Hall Meeting Room, Vancouver City Hall. Agenda is here.

An Open House is scheduled from 6:00 to 8:45 pm on October 20 (Tuesday), at the Coast Plaza Hotel, 1763 Comox Street — with applicant team and City staff present.

City’s Description: To construct a 23-storey residential tower containing a total of 158 1668 Davie, 1225 Cardero - location of proposed 23-storey towersecured market rental units . The proposal includes the demolition of the existing parking garage immediately below the surface lot while retaining the existing London Drugs and the parking immediately below it. Zoning: C-5A. Application Status: Complete Development Application. Review: First. Architect: DA Architects (Al Johnson). Staff: Colin King.

Regency Park tower now stands at Davie & Cardero. Proposal is to put a second tower on the site. Photo: CityHallWatch

Regency Park tower now stands at Davie & Cardero. Proposal is to put a second tower on the site. Photo: CityHallWatch

The proposal includes the following:

  • 158 secured market rental residential units (this probably means the Rental 100 incentive program)
  • Retail on ground floor
  • Building height  approx. 63 meters or 206 feet
  • Total floor area 11,510 square meters or 123,890 square feet
  • 95 underground parking spaces accessed from lane

The City’s Development Applications web page provides links to documents including design rationale, statistics, site information, side views, 3D model views, shadow/private view analysis, and more. (Save a copy if you are concerned about the project — these files will eventually be removed from the City website.) The link is here: http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/developmentservices/devapps/1668davie/index.htm (Note that floor plans of the building are not posted so it can be difficult to understand the internal layout of the proposal.)

ISSUES: A more complete analysis is needed, but some here are some things residents may find concern them. Tower separation (much less than intended by the previous West End development guidelines). High density on the developed portion of the site – a floor space ratio of approximately 10.4. Height of tower.Blocking of views. Shadowing. Lack of review by City CouncilQuestionable implementation of the density provisions in the West End Community plan– with two towers being proposed on this one site, and the density being “averaged” to permit the proposed tower to be larger than it otherwise could be.  Combined impacts of multiple developments — just to name two close by: towers proposed for Safeway site across street (Davie/Cardero), and the recently approved tower at the north-east corner of Davie and Bidwell Street (Mac’s/Bosleys).  Parking in the project is very difficult to comprehend.  Existing parking beneath London Drugs serves the existing “Regency Park” tower, as well as the London Drugs store.  With demolition of some of the existing parking, and construction of new parking, a total of 143 parking spaces are proposed for the approximately 180 existing units in the Regency Park tower and the proposed 158 units in the new building – a total of 338 dwelling units and a large drugstore sharing 143 parking spaces.  Given existing parking challenges in the West End, it will be important to confirm that the users of the site will have sufficient parking on this site.

PROVIDE INPUT: For this project if you have a comment you can use the City’s online feedback form, attend the open house, contact the project facilitator (wendy.lebreton@vancouver.ca , 604.871.6796), “observe” the UDP meeting, and write to or attend the DPB. Or you may wish to share comments or concerns with Council directly at this link:  contact Mayor and Council.

FAST TRACK: This project is getting rapid treatment. How fast is fast? According to the City, the application was received on August 14. After an internal review, details were made public on the City website on September 24. The Urban Design Panel reviews the proposal on October 7. Open House October 20. Deadline for public input October 30, and the four-person internal Development Permit Board (DPB) is scheduled to approve the project on November 30, just 15 weeks after submission, with little opportunity for meaningful input from affected residents.

IMPACTS OF THE COMMUNITY PLAN: The West End Community Plan adopted in 2013 has made this accelerated process possible. “Pre-zoning” of this and many other sites in the West End has eliminated the need for a public hearing (the project can be approved as a development application, with no further need for rezoning), and virtually eliminated the potential for the public to have meaningful input on any aspect of the development. Expect many more like this in the West End. Some people may feel there was a failure by city planners to have not explained how this would all work in reality, during public consultations for the West End Plan.

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