Vancouver city staff are eyeing a skyscraper that would top even Donald Trump’s tower.
The idea of a 70-storey high-rise near the corner of West Georgia and Burrard streets was conceived as part of a draft community plan for the West End.
The building would surpass the 63-storey Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver that the flamboyant American businessman announced in a visit in June. It would also outstrip the tallest structure currently in the city, the 61-storey Shangri-La hotel, condo tower, and office building. Both are on West Georgia Street.
West Enders who missed the three-day open house hosted by the city in June can learn more about the proposed plan at a forum on Wednesday (August 28). The event is being organized by the West End Neighbours.
According to WEN director Randy Helten, the plan involves “dramatic increases of height and density” in what is already one of the most tightly packed neighbourhoods in Vancouver.
“There’ll be quite a lot of people affected by these changes in height,” Helten told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “You can create a wall, actually, along Robson, Alberni, and West Georgia.”
The 204-hectare West End is a vibrant place. It’s home to the Davie Village, the heart of the city’s LGBTQ community.
More than 44,000 people live in the district. They’ll have 10,000 additional neighbours by 2041, according to the 30-year plan drawn up by city staff. It calls for up to 4,500 new residents on Burrard Street; 1,500 on West Georgia Street; 1,500 on Davie Street; 750 on Robson Street; and 1,750 in other areas. The plan also makes room for more than 8,000 new job spaces.
Among the new tall buildings possibly coming to Davie Street is a 40-storey tower near the corner of Burrard. This would dominate all existing and planned structures on Davie, from Burrard to Denman.
Denman Street would see new developments of up to 15 storeys.
The 42-storey Empire Landmark Hotel will continue to stand supreme on Robson Street. The proposed plan provides for additional buildings of up to only 30 storeys on the strip.
“There’s still a huge amount of discussion needed regarding the impact on views of the [North Shore] mountains,” Helten noted.
But the former mayoral candidate also pointed out that planners are leaving untouched several residential sections in the neighbourhood, where apartment buildings are six storeys maximum. “That is somewhat acceptable,” Helten said.
The West End community plan is one of four policy documents being prepared by the city for neighbourhoods across Vancouver.
It’s a process that has proven to be contentious in the Downtown Eastside, Grandview-Woodland, and Marpole.
The Downtown Eastside–based Carnegie Community Action Project has dismissed directions that city staff have identified for the neighbourhood as a “recipe for displacement”. Residents of Grandview-Woodland were incensed at the idea of putting up high-rises around the Commercial Drive and Broadway transit centre. In Marpole, hundreds showed up at an August 18 rally to protest the planned rezoning of single-family properties to accommodate growth in the coming years.
So far, things have been quiet in the West End.
Helten suggested that residents have grown weary after vigorously protesting “lightning-rod projects” that were eventually approved by Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver caucus. These include the infill development of 133 rental homes at the Beach Towers complex. The project was given the go-ahead in February.
In June 2012, council approved a 22-storey rental building at 1401 Comox Street, despite opposition from West Enders.
“People have participated in public hearings, and generally public opinion has been ignored in favour of development,” Helten said. “There’s a fair amount of fatigue…and cynicism about city processes.”
City staff Brian Jackson and Kevin McNaney—general manager of planning and development, and assistant director of planning, respectively—will be at the August 28 forum moderated by Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith. The event at the West End Community Centre (870 Denman Street) starts at 7 p.m.