The Real Estate Weekly for Vancouver East (18 Nov 2011, p. R9) takes over half a page to herald “Two Amazing Development Opportunities” that lie about one kilometer apart in the Norquay area. View the advertisement for yourself. The first of these lies in the heart of Norquay.
“Opportunity #1” appears to be a package deal for 4 adjacent properties that are not yet officially mass rezoned out of RS-1 in Norquay. The four addresses on Slocan Street lie on the west side just north of Kingsway.
To chart the details:
Address Asking Price Lot Dimensions 2011 Assessment 4859 Slocan $1.329 Million 41.5 x 120 = 4980 $680,700 4865 Slocan $1.389 Million 43 x 120 = 5160 $678,000 4873 Slocan $1.369 Million 41.5 x 110 = 4565 $639,600 4879 Slocan $1.329 Million 31.5 x 110 = 3442 $674,000 $5.416 Million $2,672,300
It seems likely that a speculative interest has optioned these individual properties and is marketing them ahead of the planning that is underway. Norquay residents will never be privy to what may be taking place between developers and planners in the back rooms of City Hall.
A portion of these four properties would naturally fall within what has already been defined as “transition zone” for four-storey apartment. But the Slocan Street frontage of 157.5 feet far exceeds what might be taken as normal transition of one lot’s depth, which is the land between a laneway parallel to Kingsway and next regular street. Frontage for the three lots closest to Kingsway totals 116 feet, which approximates the norm for lot depth.
The first concern here is creep — an apparent attempt to drag an extra lot into the transition category. This might even be acceptable, provided any development proposal were to include setback and parking along the north end of the property, in order that the Rowhouse/Townhouse region beyond not be overwhelmed by immediate adjacency. After all, most of the “transition” zone finds a full street width separating the four-storey apartment zone from the neighboring new housing type.
Note also that VanMap shows 4873 Slocan as two tied properties: a 31.5 foot frontage like 4879 Slocan to the south, and then to the north a separated 10 foot frontage, apparently laid out as a narrow lane.
The second concern is premature speculation, a rush to do ad hoc development even before the planning has been established. The City of Vancouver needs to capture this “lift” — the more than doubling of assessed value in the asking price — and to ensure that their planning brings benefit to the neighborhood rather than simply handing a windfall over to property owners and/or speculators-developers.
“Opportunity #2” lies a little outside of any Norquay boundary that has ever been proposed:
4250 Atlin $2.1 Million 70 x 275 = 19,254 $1,046,100
Three comments can be made about this property. (1) It is zoned RS-1, is not a part of the extensive mass rezoning imposed on Norquay, and should constitute a part of the RS-1 that planners said would remain to the neighborhood. (2) Being on the west side of the Renfrew Ravine, it seems likely that City of Vancouver would require a portion of the land abutting the ravine as a condition of any future development [this has happened already]. (3) To allow development beyond current zoning right beside this unique natural feature does not seem appropriate.
Note further that Renfrew Ravine is a part of an extensive greenway that is to connect across Norquay to Norquay Park, a major promise to the neighborhood in the Norquay Plan.