Proposed tower in Vancouver's West End divides community

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      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.”

      Comments

      8 Comments

      Guess what?

      Sep 8, 2015 at 8:56pm

      Not in my back yard so I just don't care.

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      Westender

      Sep 8, 2015 at 9:42pm

      It would have been valuable to see some attention on this project prior to it going to public hearing. As it stands, there is no further opportunity for public input on the project. The only reason that Council's decision was delayed from the July Council consideration was that (Non-Vision Vancouver) voices on Council requested more information regarding the tenant package for the existing tenants to be displaced by this development - but we don't see mention of that in the article. Instead we see a summary of the public input registered on the City's website. Some pro, some con. And a headline that the neighbourhood is "divided." This site has been an active rezoning since 2009. It was "shelved" during the West End Community Plan process and then reared its head again in January of 2015. At that time there was no affordable housing of any kind in the project. Only through public input did the proposal for reduced rents appear for some of the units. It's disappointing to see this kind of journalism. Disappointing as well to see Gordon Neighbourhood House supporting this proposal and the making the suggestion that this building will "contribute to affordability in the West End." Gordon Neighbourhood House was screwed over by this same developer in the project at 1401 Comox Street/1051 Broughton Street (The Lauren) with new space being offered to Gordon House in exchange for support, and the space subsequently clawed back - Gordon House being left with nothing. Rents in "The Lauren" are well beyond what was suggested by the developer and blessed by staff at the rezoning stage - 550 square foot one bedrooms are in the $1700 to $2000 range, and two bedroom units range between $2500 and $3000. Yet this current project will "contribute to affordability"? Affordability for a new Bentley for the developer, perhaps...

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      I hate this!

      Sep 9, 2015 at 6:28am

      What is with the spilt on the rents for low income people?? This drives me CRAZY! Here is why..

      I work a crazy amount of hours a day and have very high stress levels because of my responsibilities. Fine. I make okay wage but only because i have no debt. I pay A LOT of rent to live in the west end and there are few "nice" places to rent maybe 2 or 3 come up a month that aren't bug infested or falling apart. 50% on my income goes to rent. Why is it that I would have to first pay more than a low income person and second share my building with a person that doesn't contribute to the economy. Whats next, more dollar stores? Is there room for more? Why not move in some folks that CAN afford mid-range rent and get a diverse crowd of folks rather than super high and super low rent. I saw the suites at the Lauren and they were quite small and boxy. I can't imagine paying 2500 a month for a place like that. Why can't we just have reasonable rent for people with jobs and incomes to match. BUT the catch is why would you have low-income in the nicest area in the city? Diversity? Please. These mixed units are RUINING pockets of the city all over the place. There are a few blocks here are there in the nice part of downtown that I don't want to walk through now, but a couple years ago, no problem.

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      JF

      Sep 9, 2015 at 9:17am

      Gee, I wonder if they'll approve it. What a cliffhanger.

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      Market Rates

      Sep 9, 2015 at 11:23am

      If you're paying $1,250 for a studio, you're an idiot. Market rates for studios in the West End are no more than $1000 max. What a load...

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      Realist

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:32pm

      Watch for the proposed "studio" units to be converted to "one bedroom units" through the addition of a partial wall. Rent on these units will then be increased to the one-bedroom levels. This is exactly what happened in the same developer's project at 1051 Broughton Street.

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      Nelson100

      Sep 10, 2015 at 2:19pm

      "City council is about to make a decision on a proposed tower that has divided Vancouver's West End community."

      LOL, as if the decision is even in the slightest doubt. It might be fun to replay Gregor's election commitment to "do thing differently" in your head as our Vision council gives the inevitable unanimous approval.

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      VanCancer

      Sep 11, 2015 at 1:58pm

      As Jon Stewart said in his farewell, call bullshit whenever you see it. I've seen it since Vision lied their way into power and it won't change while they hold it. Nothing is sacred to them but their greenwashing and the next project of their pet developers and architects.

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