City of Vancouver holds key to future of development hot spot on Commercial Drive

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      A group of Vancouver residents has suggested an alternative to a planned development of three condo towers in Grandview-Woodland.

      For it to happen, the City of Vancouver needs to be onside.

      According to a proposal by the No Tower Coalition, the city will donate public land for social housing to Kettle Society, a nonprofit that helps people with mental health issues.

      With this, the city doesn’t need to be a part of Kettle’s project with Boffo Properties to develop around 200 condo residences and 30 supportive housing units at the northwest corner of Venables Street and Commercial Drive.

      The planned condo development involves four properties: one by Kettle, two owned by Boffo on both sides of Kettle’s land, and a parking lot north of the three properties, which is owned by the city.

      The Boffo and Kettle project aims to build towers of eight, 10, and 12 storeys. The 12-storey building is proposed to be located at the city’s property.

      The Boffo and Kettle project involves four properties, including one by the City of Vancouver.

      Composed of residents in Grandview-Woodland, the No Tower Coalition has opposed the project, citing its massive scale.

      According to a spokesperson of the group, Sue Garber, the coalition has presented its idea to most members of city council. It hasn’t had discussions so far with mayor Gregor Robertson, and councillors Heather Deal and Tim Stevenson.

      “There’s been no commitment,” Garber told the Straight by phone about how councillors received the group’s suggestion.

      As far as Garber knows, the city hasn’t decided to partner with Boffo and Kettle in the mostly condo development.

      The coalition’s alternative would see Kettle selling its property, estimated at more than $2 million.

      With the proceeds, Kettle can build 25,000 square-foot building at the city property it will receive as a grant. Estimated to cost more than $5 million, the new building will have increased spaces for community service and 30 supportive housing units.

      “The City of Vancouver and the Kettle together own over half the total square footage of the land in question,” Garber stated in a news release. “With the city contribution, this approach could work very well.” 

      “We think this is a very viable alternative. And it is much preferable to public land being turned over to a developer for tremendous profit, with so many unfortunate impacts on the neighbouring community,” Garber added. “These lands are currently in community hands.  They should stay that way.”