East Van housing project to mix renters and owners

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      Separate entrances and amenities for rich and poor people living in the same building are not unusual in Vancouver.

      The Woodward’s and L’Hermitage buildings, both located downtown, are two examples where condo owners and social-housing residents don’t rub shoulders.

      More than two years ago, the so-called poor-door phenomenon generated fresh attention when the Jervis, a 19-storey building in the West End, was approved by the city.

      In this joint venture by Intracorp Projects Ltd. and Inform Interiors that has been completed, condo owners will enter on Jervis Street, and those in social housing will have to use Davie Street.

      It may be difficult to sell condo buyers on the idea of sharing an entrance with people of meagre means. But mixing them with renters who can pay market rates may work, and this is what Intracorp intends to do in a new development.

      Intracorp has assembled eight lots on the northwest corner of East 11th Avenue and Victoria Drive, where it plans to develop a residential building that combines condos and rental homes.

      In its application to rezone the site, the company states that it wants to set the “benchmark” for future mixed-tenure projects in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood.

      “There will not be separate entrances as the intent is to have one main entrance and lobby,” according to a letter of intent signed by Evan Allegretto, vice president of development.

      The development would feature a 10-storey mid-rise building with a six-storey podium. It will have 76 market rental units and 68 condos, for a total of 144 homes.

      According to Allegretto, the residents will share amenity spaces in the lobby and on the two rooftops.

      “In a City where outdoor space is becoming a very limited commodity, the rooftop is some of the most valuable space,” Allegretto wrote. “This application is unique as it is the goal to make this valuable space accessible to all residents of the building (both renters and strata owners).”

      Allegretto, who is also the company spokesperson, was on leave and unavailable for an interview about the project, which had a community open house in July.

      Local resident David Carman attended the public event, and he thinks having some rentals is better than getting an all-condo project.

      However, Carman, who is a member of the board of the citizens’ group Grandview-Woodland Area Council (GWAC), is concerned that the new development will not be affordable for many.

      “It’s good to see more rentals, but at the same time, I think any new rentals that are going to be made with these new developments will be far more unaffordable than what is currently existing,” Carman told the Georgia Straight by phone on August 21.

      Carman also said that the development will loom over the surrounding area, which is predominantly a mix of low-rise condo and rental buildings, and single-family homes.

      “It does seem somewhat inappropriate in my opinion to be plunking a 10-storey building at that location,” he said.

      The Intracorp project is one of the first ones being proposed under the new Grandview-Woodland community plan that was approved by city council in July 2016.

      Carman’s GWAC group had raised concerns about the plan, citing fears that it may lead to the demolition of old rental stock to pave the way for more expensive housing.

      In approving the new plan, the City of Vancouver claimed that the move will deliver 7,150 new homes, providing affordable housing for people of various income levels over the next three decades.

      However, Carman noted that experience has shown that adding more supply doesn’t do the job, as housing costs have been increasing.

      “Obviously, that formula is not currently working,” Carman said.

      Former GWAC chair Dorothy Barkley said in a separate interview that the Intracorp project will raise land values in the area.

      “The effect will be to make surrounding properties less affordable,” Barkley told the Straight by phone.

      The rezoning application has yet to be referred by council for a public hearing.