Vancouver city council set to consider 16-storey development in Chinatown

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      Vancouver is set to consider a rezoning application for a 16-storey building in Chinatown on Wednesday, at the second public hearing within two weeks for a tower in the neighbourhood.

      The proposed development at 633 Main Street, and a 17-storey mixed-use tower approved by council last week at 611 Main Street, are among five sites along the corridor that were identified for rezoning of up to 150 feet as part of the Historic Area Height Review policy passed in April 2011.

      Jordan Eng, the vice president of the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Area Society, said the community is happy to see some development in the area proceeding.

      “It’ll bring some much-needed residential units into the neighbourhood to help some of the businesses and bring some prosperity back to the neighbourhood, which has gone through some tough times over the last 10-15 years,” he told the Straight by phone.

      He noted the developments follow more than a decade of planning by business and community groups in the neighbourhood.

      But the buildings are being opposed by some anti-poverty activists, who protested the rezoning policy for the area.

      Jean Swanson, coordinator of the Carnegie Community Action Project, is concerned about the potential impacts of the development on low-income tenants in the Chinatown area.

      “There are 388 SRO hotel rooms and cheap apartments in that vicinity,” she said in a phone interview. “So we’re afraid that the impact of the gentrification will be that the rents in those places will go up, and the low-income people will be displaced.”

      CCAP released a housing report last week detailing what the group says is the loss of 426 low-income rooms in the Downtown Eastside to rent increases that make the units unaffordable to people on social assistance.

      “So the situation is not as rosy as the city and the province would paint it,” stated Swanson. “It’s a crisis, and the gentrification that’s brought on by these condo towers in Chinatown is just making the crisis worse.”

      The application going to public hearing this week from Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc. on behalf of developer Bosa Blue Sky Properties proposes a 16-storey mixed residential-commercial development at the northwest corner of Main and East Georgia Streets featuring 188 units and retail space on the ground level.

      The 611 Main Street development approved in principle by council last week consists of a 17-storey building including 135 condo units, office and retail floor space, and 22 units of rental housing for seniors. Out of the 22 units, 11 will be renting for the welfare shelter rate of $375 a month, six will go for about $850 a month, and five units will be rented for about $900 to $950 a month.

      Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie called the 611 Main Street application consistent with the policy approved by council in 2011.

      “Council made a meaningful and purposeful decision to pull out this section of the Downtown Eastside and say that Chinatown South...would have this opportunity to proceed, and so based on the criteria as approved by council, this development is consistent with council’s decision,” he said last week.

      The public hearing on 633 Main Street will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday (February 27).




      Feb 26, 2013 at 10:13am

      So the DTES groups now want to claim Chinatown as "their turf"? They'll stop at nothing to spread their misery at our expense!



      Feb 26, 2013 at 1:45pm

      i think that in 5 years, Vancouver will be nothing but a bunch of skyscrapers, Starbucks, and Donnelly bars.


      Tibor Csak(Zak)

      Feb 26, 2013 at 9:55pm

      Give it arest, we think its about time Ms Swanson and cohorts get off the soap box, and be relistic about housing issues and maybe they should help in suppling constructive input as to remidy with the developers than blow hot air.


      Mar 7, 2013 at 11:11pm

      No point in having a debate about it. With Vision in power of course it is already a done deal. For those weary of the tone of RealityCheck's comments don't bother arguing with him or speaking at city hall. Get engaged in the next civic election. Pick a candidate or party, start supporting, volunteering or donating. Let's give Vision an urgently needed lesson in democracy. Let's send them to the same dustbin as the NPA. Let's get someone in power who listens to citizens instead of developers for a change.


      Mar 17, 2013 at 8:52pm

      I prefer the fake Christmas trees, too! It's just so much eieasr. I like the prelit ones so we don't have to struggle with tangled lights, etc. And my hubby always wants a real one. It's an argument we have every year! Glad I'm not the only one with some sense. ;) Happy Sunday, Alyx!


      Mar 26, 2013 at 1:15pm

      These neighborhood groups in Vancouver are truly incapable of imagining what might be best for the broader community. Whenever there are changes, there are going to be winners and losers. The few people that already live in the area may suffer increased rents in the short term, but the effect of increasing housing supply in the long run is decreased housing prices. Price is the intersection of supply and demand, as we all should know. Take a bit of a broader, longer term view people.