Norquay Village residents balk at new development
Once the site of a busy Canadian Tire store, 2220 Kingsway in East Vancouver sits silent for now.
When local resident Joseph Jones first learned who would redevelop the almost one-hectare property, he was excited. It was Westbank Projects Corp., a leading real estate company that has built projects like Shangri-La Vancouver, a sleek hotel-condo tower and the highest structure in the city.
“My first reaction was, you know, they had done some pretty attractive projects,” Jones recalled in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight. “Maybe we can hope for something good.”
But when the retired UBC librarian started going over the proposal submitted to city hall by Henriquez Partners Architects on behalf of Westbank, he was disappointed. Jones said it wasn’t in line with the spirit of the City of Vancouver’s Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan.
Approved by council in November 2010, the plan covers the area on either side of Kingsway between Gladstone Street to the west and Killarney Street to the east. “The Norquay plan called for a substantial amount of public space,” Jones said. “The development proposal really does not seem to have any kind of plaza, other than something that will funnel people in from the corner of Gladstone and Kingsway into a big-box store. And that’s not what we [neighbourhood residents] understood as a plaza—a public space that’s attractive to people and could even be used for outdoor community events.”
Westbank’s proposed mixed-used development consists of 30,865 square metres of residential space and 4,853 square metres for commercial use. It includes 404 condo and townhome units and close to 600 parking spaces. Three of the buildings will be 14 storeys tall.
The Norquay plan mentions “gateway” sites on which 14-storey buildings are allowed. But with a structure this high at the very edge of the neighbourhood, it doesn’t look inviting, according to Jones.
“It’s not really what I would call a gateway,” he said. “I would call it a fort where a sentinel will be looking down on people who run the gauntlet.”
When sought for comment, Westbank referred the Straight to Henriquez Partners Architects. The architectural firm didn’t make a spokesperson available before deadline.
Jones is organizing a community forum about the redevelopment of 2220 Kingsway. The event will be held Monday (August 20) starting at 7 p.m. at the Tipper Restaurant (2066 Kingsway).