City council is about to make a decision on a proposed tower that has divided Vancouver’s West End community.
According to a city staff report, Westbank Projects Corp. is planning to build a 21-storey high-rise with 178 rental homes at 1754–1772 Pendrell Street, a development supported by city staff.
Located midblock on the south side of the street, the more than 17,000-square-foot site now contains a three-storey apartment building and a rooming house, providing 26 rental units in total. Rents range from $420 to $915.
These 26 units will be replaced with an equal number in the development, with rents 20 percent below the West End average. This means that new residents in these homes will pay $761 a month for a studio, $961 for a one-bedroom, $1,565 for two bedrooms, and $2,428 for three bedrooms.
The remaining 152 units will be rented at market rates. A studio will go for $1,250, one bedroom for $1,550, two bedrooms for $2,200, and three bedrooms for $2,850.
According to a staff report, “when compared to home ownership costs, these rents would provide a more affordable alternative to home ownership.” Staff also advised council that the project “would make a significant contribution towards the City’s overall affordable housing goals”.
More than half of responses from the public feedback received by the city indicated concerns about the proposed development.
West End homeowner Matthew Goguen wrote the city that the neighbourhood is already dense and that “there must be limits to density, or we lose the West End we know and love.”
Another resident wondered why another part of town, Kitsilano, doesn’t get residential towers. “Strange—must be sacred ground,” Patty Burn noted in her letter.
Resident William Ellis wrote the city to suggest that it should be promoting low-rise but high-density developments instead: “First of all, tall buildings push housing costs upward, never downward.”
Westbank’s project, which has been referred for council decision on Tuesday (September 15), is supported by residents like John Foley. In a letter to the city, Foley said the development will contribute to the city’s goal of enabling the construction of 5,000 new rentals by 2021.
West End resident Megan Lawrence said in a letter that the project will allow more people to live in the neighbourhood: “The development will offer studio to three bedroom units which will encourage a variety of households and family types to move into the area.”
Paul Taylor, executive director of the Gordon Neighbourhood House in the West End, also supports the project. In a letter to the city, Taylor wrote: “Few rental units have been added to the West End in recent years. The addition of 178 new units is much needed in the area and will help contribute to affordability in the West End by providing a wider range of rental options.”