Oakridge Lutheran Church aims to redevelop its site for below-market rental building

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      A church is embarking on a one-of-a-kind development in Vancouver’s Cambie Corridor.

      It will be unlike the mostly condominium projects along and around the six-kilometre strip that starts in the north at West 16th Avenue and runs to the Fraser River in the south.

      Oakridge Lutheran Church intends to redevelop its site just west of Cambie Street into a below-market rental building.

      Together with a development partner, the church is in discussions with the City of Vancouver about the level of affordability that will be put in place. That partner is Catalyst Community Developments Society, a nonprofit real-estate developer whose mission is to create affordable homes.

      “We see our project as kind of unique…an oasis in the Cambie Corridor,” Catalyst president Robert Brown told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      Oakridge Lutheran Church has been at its 585 West 41st Avenue location since 1956. In rezoning and development applications with the city, the partners are seeking permits to construct a six-storey mixed-use building on the 15,770-square-foot lot.

      The property is across the street from Oakridge Centre, which is up for a major redevelopment.

      The proposed church development will have 46 affordable-housing units on the upper four floors, a new church and community space on the second floor, and retail space at street level.

      “It’s going to be the only below-market rental building in that whole Cambie Corridor area,” Brown said.

      The Canada Line transit system has spurred developments in the Cambie Corridor, which is bordered by Oak Street to the west and Ontario Street to the east.

      In 2011, city council approved the Cambie Corridor Plan to guide growth. As of October 2015, the city had approved 31 rezoning applications in the area, including the one for Oakridge Centre.

      These projects will produce 6,950 new housing units, mostly condos.

      The Oakridge Centre redevelopment includes 290 units of social housing. However, development partners Ivanhoé Cambridge and Westbank Projects Corp. are downsizing the project, which originally included 11 residential towers, new retail and office spaces, and community facilities.