Vancouver Chinatown advisory committee rejects new development application for 105 Keefer Street

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      The committee that advises the City of Vancouver about Chinatown heritage has refused to support a new application to develop 105 Keefer Street.

      The Beedie Group has filed a development application for a nine-storey condo building in the site, which heritage advocates consider to be a culturally sensitive area.

      The proposed development is located adjacent to the Chinatown Memorial Plaza. Two other major landmarks are found also in the vicinity. These are the Chinese Cultural Centre and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden across Columbia Street.

      In its last meeting, the Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee (CHAPC) decided that it cannot endorse the project.

      According to committee chair Helen Lee, there was a lot of discussion meeting about whether or not the condo development was a proper match for the site.

      Lee said that there was a general agreement that market housing "wasn’t quite the appropriate fit for it".

      “We’ve seen in the past how that sort of contribute to the gentrification [of the neighbourhood]," Lee told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Tuesday (October 17).

      Lee, an urban planner, said that there were also concerns about how the proposed condo development will affect the character of the area.

      She pointed that with new developments expected in the Northeast False Creek to the south, the area will become a “fairly major entry point into Chinatown”.

      Because of its central location, advocates like Fred Mah, chair of the Chinatown Society Heritage Buildings Association, are saying that a new development should make a statement to that it is a gateway to the neighbourhood.

      Lee also said that the proposed nine-storey development is not consistent with the general heights of buildings in the historic district, which are typically three or four floors.

      The Beedie Group is proposing to develop 111 condo units on the upper floors of the project. There will be retail and a cultural space for seniors on the ground floor.

      The project is a scaled-down version of the company’s previous proposal, which was subject to a rezoning application that city council  turned down  in June this year.

      The proposal that came before council involved a 12-storey building with 106 condo units, and an additional 25 units to be purchased by the B.C. government for social housing.

      The new application filed by the Beedie Group doesn’t include any units for public housing, which was also a concern noted in the last CHAPC meeting on October 12.

      “Some members felt that it would have been nice, if, as a gesture from the developer, that they could have included some sort of amenity to the community,” Lee said, citing the absence of housing for low-income seniors.

      The Beedie Group project will be taken up on October 30 by the Development Permit Board, which will have the final say on the application.