21-storey rental tower at 1500 Robson goes to Development Permit Board Sep 5 (Tues)

1500-robson from changingcitybook 5-Apr-2017The application submitted for 1500 Robson Street will go before the Development Permit Board (an internal decision-making body consisting of four senior City staff) on Tuesday, September 5 at 3 pm, at City Hall, 1st floor (Town Hall Meeting Room). This is just across from the 31 and 32 storey towers going up after demolition of the Empire Landmark Hotel at 1488 Robson.

Like many other projects we have seen in the past four years as a result of the Nov 2013 West End Community Plan and subsequent “pre-zoning” of large tracts of the West End in January 2014, this application goes straight to the DPB, with no public hearing and no involvement of City Council. However, the public is able to speak to the DPB at the meeting.

Development Application:
1500 Robson Street– DP-2017-00304– Zone C-5A
Applicant: IBI Group Architects
Property Owner: London Life Insurance Company
Request: To develop a 21 storey mixed use building with 127 market rental units and commercial units at grade all over four levels of underground parking with access off of the lane and also requesting an increase in the Floor Space Ratio using a Heritage Density Transfer from a donor site at 12 Water Street (providing 9,078 square feet).
City staff: Danielle Wiley

We can see how the West End Community Plan has significantly accelerated developments, with this one going from first application to scheduled final approval within six months for a 21-storey tower, while it can take nearly two years for permission on a minor home renovation in Vancouver.


To learn more about the Development Permit Board, including how to speak at the meeting, click here.

Here are a few excerpts fro the staff report dated July 26, 2017.

A development permit [application?] was submitted on March 15, 2017, for the redevelopment of this site on Lower Robson Street, under the provisions of the West End Community Plan and C-5A zoning. The proposal contains one residential tower (21 storeys) on a one storey podium (with mezzanine), with underground parking. Commercial/retail uses are provided in the podium, while the tower contains 100% secured market rental residential units. A public open house was held on May 3, 2017. The proposal was reviewed by the Urban Design Panel on May 10, 2017, and was supported with recommendations. The application is generally in line with the objectives of the West End Community Plan….

2 Note on Height: The height of the building is above the maximum permitted in the C-5A District Schedule. Section 4.3.2 of the C-5A District Schedule allows the Development Permit Board to relax the regulation in Section 4.3.1. The top of the parapet is considered to be the overall height of the building as long as the top of elevator/mechanical complies with Section 10.11 – Relaxation of Limitations on Building Height of the Zoning and Development Bylaw. The proposed height does not comply with the maximum permitted and confirmation is required that Section 10.11 has been met for the elevator/mechanical portion. Standard Conditions A.1.3 seeks compliance.

3 Note of Floor Area and FSR: Section 5.2 of the C-5A District Schedule allows the Development Permit Board to relax the regulation in Section 4.7 allowing a greater Floor Area/FSR provided that floor area is no greater than 7.0 FSR and either a minimum of 20% of floor area is used for social housing or all dwelling units to be secured market rental. Under Section 4.75 of the C-5A District Schedule, an additional 10% heritage density transfer (maximum 7.7 FSR or 99,969 sq. ft.) may be considered by the Development Permit Board. Standard Condition A.1.4 seeks compliance with Section 5.2 (a) of the C-5A District Schedule of the Zoning and Development Bylaw.

[The applicant is seeking 9,078 sq. ft. from a “donor site” at 12 Water Street, but none of the details of transaction are made public as far as we can tell.]

● Conclusion:
This application has generally addressed the applicable policies, and will increase the stock of rental housing in the West End, within a form of development anticipated in the community plan. Staff support the application, subject to the conditions noted.



A site sign was placed on site facing Robson Street. On April 13, 2017, 1,484 notification postcards were sent to neighbouring property owners advising them of the application, and offering additional information on the City’s website. The postcard and the development application materials were posted online at vancouver.ca/devapps. In addition, an open house was advertised on the signs and online, and was hosted on the evening of May 3, 2017. The April/May and July/August West End Plan Implementation Newsletters also included information about the project and upcoming Development Permit Board date. This newsletter was sent to the West End Plan list-serv and was also posted at key locations in the community.
Sixteen people signed in at the open house and 5 written comment sheets were received. A revised submission was received on June 9, 2017 and a second postcard was sent on June 20, 2017, to neighbouring property owners advising of the September 5, Development Permit Board date. A total of nine comments were received. In summary, three respondents requested more information or were neutral, two respondents support the project and four expressed concerns outlined below. Comments from both the open house and notification are summarized below.

Traffic: A respondent questioned the City’s plan to improve traffic in the West End.
Staff Response: The City is addressing traffic concerns in the area through various means: projects delivered through the West End Public Benefit Strategy, the West End Parking Strategy, and other projects delivered through CACs and conditions of development which address both site specific and community wide traffic concerns.

Affordability: Residents expressed concern that the market rents may not be affordable and questioned whether some units could be subsidized for low income residents.
Staff Response: This development will increase the net supply of secured market rental housing in the west end by 127 units. A Housing Agreement will also secure rents, at initial occupancy, for returning Eligible Tenants to be rented at the same as their current rents plus the annual maximum rent increase allowable under the Rental Tenancy Act.

Childcare: A resident noted there is little childcare availability in the area and requested that childcare space be made available in the building.
Staff Response: There are no requirements in the C-5A District Schedule for provision of childcare in this proposal. The West End Plan has a comprehensive Public Benefits Strategy (PBS) that provides direction for future capital investments needed to support growth in the community over the next 30 years. The PBS covers six key areas: community facilities, parks and open spaces, affordable housing, public safety, transportation, and utilities. It has 10 year and 30 year priorities, and identifies the cost estimates and funding strategies for these public benefits. Regarding childcare, the City, Park Board and School Board are committed to increasing the number of childcare spaces for school-aged children and have forged a strong partnership with non-profit childcare operators. The plan has a target of 366 new childcare spaces in the West End. The City continues to advocate for the participation of the Federal and/or Provincial governments in the delivery of childcare services.

Building Design: Two respondents indicated they supported the building design including building materials, choice of colors, amenity spaces and interface with Robson Street.



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