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 The application was withdrawn in 2021.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.

However, after the original rezoning application was filed, the domestic and global market for luxury condos in Vancouver had changed, and the applicants joined with other developers seeking changes in the zoning for this area. WEN wrote council opposing the change (“WEN writes Council opposing proposed changes to West End Community Plan (Burrard Corridor) November 24, 2020″). CityHallWatch described it as a sweet deal for developers (“Vancouver planning staff message to developers: “Heads you win, tails you win” (Planners seek rule changes for towers in Burrard Corridor of the West End Community Plan) – Council 24-Nov-2020″). But alas, Council gave the developers what they wanted, and thus, the original application was withdrawn, and replaced with this one.

From the Q&A section at the bottom of Shape Your City, excerpts:

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Q: “Why do you think this will be good for residents? How will this improve affordability?”
A (by staff): The proposal is expected to add to the city’s needed rental housing stock. The current number of units for 1065 and 1066 Harwood combined are 98 rental units. The proposal is for 288 rental units at 1065 Harwood and 287 rental units for 1066 Harwood, generating approximately 575 rental units. The two buildings provide a combined total of 113 below-market rental units. All rental units will be secured are rental for the life of the building, or 60 years, whichever is longer. Further, the 113 below-market rental units will contain an affordability that will be secured through a housing agreement, which keep these units at an affordability level that is affordable to moderate income households. The secured affordability, through a future housing agreement, will enhance what currently exists today, which are 98 market rental units.

Q: Have you ever heard or remembered the “BIG ONE” an earthquake that the city of Vancouver needs to prepare for? The downtown Vancouver connects rest of mainland by a few bridges. If a big quake occurred and damaged bridges, how do you evacuate people out and get rescue equipment and supply in? Downtown Vancouver is already crowded density area, this concentrated population would lose life if we can’t move fast enough.
A (by staff): Safety of individuals exiting a building are considered through building design and the building code. The City reviews permits for new developments to ensure that standards are being met. Regarding rescue equipment and supplies into a building, that question can be posed to General Enquiries line at 604-873-7611.

Q: A key provision of the West End Community Plan in accommodating new tall buildings was the objective that these buildings be slim in building form. “Area G” of the West End Plan includes a maximum floor plate provision of 511 square metres (5,500 square feet). The floor plate measurement was defined by the city to include all floor area (including elevators) with the exception of outdoor balconies. Can you advise whether the project as proposed complies with the maximum floor plate provisions for “Area G” as indicated in the West End Plan?
A (by staff): The 100% Secured Rental with Below-Market Rental Housing in the Burrard Corridor policy was adopted by Council in November 2020. Under this policy, proposals with 100% rental housing and 20% below-market rental housing can be considered for up to 20% additional floor area beyond what is contemplated in the West End Plan and Rezoning Policy. You are correct in that the maximum floor plates for towers above 60 ft. is 5,500 sq. ft. Given this application is for rental, staff are considering a proposal with 20% larger floor plates. These provisions of additional floor area are not contemplated with inclusionary housing and strata housing.

Q: Why would council allow such tall buildings in this area. They are completely out of character fir this neighborhood and would cast shadows on so many other smaller buildings. Towers such as these do not belong in the middle of the west end
A (by staff): The West End Plan and Rezoning Policy for the West End permit heights of 300 ft. The applicant’s proposed height is still under City review, as is typical of a rezoning application process.

Q: The West End desperately needs apartments large enough to accommodate families with children. Will there be any larger 2-bedrooms (i.e. 900sq ft) or three bedrooms? Bosa’s recent rental building at Pendrell and Thurlow had tiny apartments, which are fine for singles or couples but had no room for children, no more than one bathroom. Families live in the West End too but all the new rentals seem to exclude them.
A (by staff): The West End Plan requires 35% of the units to be family units. The current proposal offers family units for the market rental component and for the below-market rental component. The number and size of 2- and 3- bed units that make up the 35% family housing mix may change during staff review, which would then be secured a condition of approval.

Q: Is Thurlow becoming a two way street? Video shows car travelling north.
A (by staff): Thurlow is currently a one-way street. The applicant’s video may show a future scenario.

Q: What mitigation measures will be implemented to minimize disruption to traffic flow on Harwood and Thurlow street? Other recent developments in the area seem to almost exclusively use the street as a staging area, resulting in traffic headaches and pedestrian detours that drag on for years.
A (by staff): Pre-construction the site is required to meet with and coordinate construction and street use with our Engineering team. Appropriate permits are required to secure street space and any closures must be permitted in advance with proper traffic management plans approved. Closures of the lane/streets are likely to be prohibited and if permitted neighbourhood notification would be required in advance. Residents are encouraged to file complaints of prohibited activity or street use with 3.1.1 for staff to investigate.
The following Parking Bylaw requirements will be provided on-site and aid in mitigating concerns related site generated activity:

1 Class B sized loading space for move-in/move-out activities and deliveries.
Visitor parking
2 Class B passenger spaces designed for temporary pick-up/drop-off activities including for passengers of a vehicle, food delivery services, ride hailing etc.

Q: Four massive 36 story towers with views over English Bay to attract high-end tenants and exhorbitant rents. In Vancouver, “newer structures in central areas drove the increase in the vacancy rate” (rentals.ca February, 2021) with the asking rent for vacant units 21.4 % higher than the average for occupied units (ibid). Why are developers allowed to build luxury apartments while claiming to provide low/middle class housing? The developers could not market their presales as condos, so now the strategy is to bootstrap the project to the Criteria for 100% Secured Rental and Below-Market Housing as an Alternative to Inclusionary Social Housing in the Burrard Corridor. The spirit of the Criteria is deeply at odds with the intent of these proposals. It is obvious to the residents of this community that this is not an alternative to inclusionary social housing. The existing residents may be re-housed, but will there be a net gain in low -income housing?
A (by staff): The applicant is proposing a rental building under the 100% Secured Rental policy that you referenced. The rental housing proposed advances the rental housing targets, and affordable housing targets, in the West End. The policy requires 1-for-1 replacement. The proposal will replace the existing rental units with rental units that contain a level of secured affordability.

Q: Why is a 36 storey building being allowed to exist here, when the maximum size should be 10 floors max.
A (by staff): This proposal is coming in under a policy and West End Plan that allows for a building height up to 300 ft. the policy doesn’t specify the number of storeys. The policy does allow for more than a building that would be equivalent to 10 storeys.

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Previous WEN coverage.

https://westendneighbours.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/rezoning-open-house-1065-harwood/

Here is where the developers pleaded with Council for switching from social housing/condos to rentals. https://westendneighbours.wordpress.com/2020/11/23/housing-burrard-corridor-no-to-changes/

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