Towers rise in Vancouver despite real-estate market slowdown
The Lower Mainland real-estate market has slowed down over the last two months, compared with recent years, but that hasn’t stopped some large-scale projects from moving through the approval process.
On Monday (July 16), James K.M. Cheng Architects will be at the Vancouver development permit board seeking approval of a mixed-use residential and retail development at 8198 Cambie Street.
Intracorp is developing the project across the street from the Marine Gateway project, which is beside the Canada Line’s Marine Drive station. If the permit is awarded, Intracorp plans to build 31- and 25-storey towers on two podium bases of seven and five stories.
The proposal received unanimous support before the Urban Design Panel on June 6. It includes 110 rental units under the city’s Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing program, along with 444 market strata units, two artists’ studios with residential components, and four levels of underground parking.
At the same meeting, Perkins + Will Architects will seek a development permit for Phase 1 of Wall Financial Corp.’s massive redevelopment of Shannon Mews, on the northwest corner of Granville Street and West 57th Avenue. The historic site includes a mansion once owned by sugar baron Ben Rogers, a heritage wall around the grounds, Italianate gardens, and apartments designed by Vancouver’s most famous architect, Arthur Erickson.
The first phase of the project includes three multiple-dwelling buildings with commercial units at grade, according to the development-permit board’s agenda. The architectural firm is also seeking the board’s approval for the restoration of three designated heritage buildings on-site and development of a local energy system.
Wall Financial Corp. obtained city council’s approval last year to increase the number of units on site from 162 to more than 700. As part of the proposal, the company will create a small park, demolish Erickson-designed apartment buildings, and create a hole in the heritage wall.
The third major development of interest is Aquilini Development and Construction’s application to rezone the area around Rogers Arena to allow construction of three towers of 24, 28, and 32 storeys. The company is seeking council’s approval to build 614 market rental units and 20,000 square metres of commercial space.
The public hearing begins at Vancouver City Hall on Thursday (July 12).
The west tower would be built just west of the arena, which is owned by the Aquilini family. The east tower would be constructed near the intersection of Abbott Street and Pacific Boulevard. And the south tower would stand on the other side of the Georgia Viaduct from Rogers Arena, facing onto Pacific Boulevard.
According to a city report, Aquilini would install a heating-and-hot-water system in the east and south towers that would connect to a district-heating program.
“A declaration signed by the registered professional of record certifying that the district energy connectivity requirements have been satisfied will be required as a pre-condition to building permit,” the report states.
An earlier staff report released in June stated that the original proposal in October 2010 included a fourth tower on the plaza north of Rogers Arena, above the SkyTrain guideway. Staff opposed this proposal for several reasons.
“The North Plaza is the second busiest entrance/exit point for the arena, with over 5,700 patrons utilizing the entryway before and after events,” the June staff report states. “The plaza also plays an important role in the management of large volumes of SkyTrain riders during event times, especially at the end of an event when large crowds are queuing for the SkyTrain.”
In addition, the fourth tower would have cast shadows over Andy Livingstone Park in the afternoon, and on the intersection of Abbott Street and Expo Boulevard.
The Georgia Viaduct bisects the Aquilini site. Coun. Geoff Meggs has told the Georgia Straight in the past that he favours getting rid of both the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, a move that could result in rerouting traffic either along Pacific Boulevard or along Hastings Street into the downtown core.
The CityHallWatch website, which was created by former Vancouver mayoral candidate Randy Helten, has asked whether it makes sense for this application to proceed before the city determines the future of the viaducts.