Archive for June 2012
The open house for the STIR project at 4320 Slocan Street was held on 27 June 2012. Light attendance was understandable, given the pro forma nature of all such events. Even so, at least five Norquay stalwarts showed up to scrutinize plans and to put questions to the planners and proponents.
Discrepancy between the calculable site area of about 12,000 sq ft and the stated/assumed site area of about 15,000 sq ft (said to have been supplied by the surveyor) still awaits explanation. A planner said that “plan checking” — apparently not performed prior to the open house — would not miss this problem, if it in fact exists. Further response is anticipated and will be added here as an update to this report.
[Update (9 July 2012) — A City of Vancouver planner has elucidated the discrepancy. The Site Plan drawing had incorrect labeling for the dimension along the rear lane. What was specified as 115.16 feet should have read 159.16 feet.]
The same city planner agreed that the large curb cut crossing the Slocan Street sidewalk is not desirable, but the topography of the site renders impractical any other approach to onsite parking. Only time will tell if allowing this kind of traffic pattern near both elementary school and major park space will result in accidents, injuries, and perhaps fatalities, given the street curve, the SkyTrain bridge, nearby intersections, and the adjacent bicycle route.
The representatives for the project are Allan Diamond Architect and Yenik Realty. The present owner of the property is said to have held it for sixty years, and to plan to continue for the long term as investor owner. The quality and design of the proposal appear to represent a stakeholder ethos common to all three parties. Reassuring factors consequently include the involvement of smaller scale developers, and a general absence of the hit-and-run motivations common to crass speculation.
The depredations of STIR inevitably attach to this proposal, but are not a fault that can be attributed to the proposal itself. The clear disproportion of STIR allocation to the Norquay area is rather a matter of defective City of Vancouver policy, and a lack of anything that could possibly be called “planning” when it comes to the distribution of STIR impacts (increasing population, no parking provisions, no concurrent increase in supporting amenities) across Vancouver.
For the record, provided below are links to 22 photographs of display panels, 2 of panel details on project specifications [ 07 and 08 ], and 3 of the scale model [ 25 and 26 and 27 ]:
One of the three largest land parcels (2.3 acres) remaining in Norquay has clearly been in play since survey stakes appeared on the property in mid-2011. As of 21 June 2012, the City of Vancouver rezoning web site shows this new information about 2220 Kingsway:
Location: 2220 Kingsway
Date: updated – 06/21/12 / posted – 06/21/12
Description: Mixed-Use Development
Henriquez Partners Architects has applied to the City of Vancouver to rezone 2220 Kingsway from C-2 (Commercial) District to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) District. The proposal is for a mixed-used development consisting of 30 866 m2 of residential and 4 853 m2 of commercial. The proposed development includes 404 dwelling units, with a height of 45.1 m (148 ft.), and a total of 561 parking spaces.
City Contact: Grant Miller 604.873.7484 firstname.lastname@example.org
Applicant Contact: Brock Cheadle Henriquez Partners Architects
Project: 6331 Proposed
Eye on Norquay first reported on this situation in September Letter under item 3. A large closing-out sign recently appeared on the Canadian Tire store presently located at the site. Sales staff say that the location will close at the end of July 2012.
A web site titled Simon Lim provides a 17 September 2011 posting that reports closure on acquisition of the site by Westbank Projects:
The 2.3 acre site was purchased from Manulife Financial for $34,088,000, representing approximately $107 per buildable sq ft. … Under the guidelines of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan … the large nature of the site will likely allow a density of 3.2 to 3.5 FSR for a residential/commercial development with towers as high as 14-storeys.
It is disheartening to think that this major Norquay planning project proceeds to this level of detail with no community consultation whatsoever. The City of Vancouver seems determined to continue with
• Letting planners deal off-the-grid with developers
• Making a few untimely and largely meaningless pro forma public gestures (open house syndrome, etc)
• Treating long-existing neighborhoods like empty fields where a few serfs happen to camp out already
This approach to the future can only exacerbate the new social tensions that have emerged across Vancouver in the past decade.
The upcoming open house for a STIR (Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing) project at 4320 Slocan Street has led Eye on Norquay to take hard look at the end result of STIR incursion into Vancouver. Between 18 June 2009 and 15 December 2011 the City of Vancouver took in 26 STIR applications for 27 locations. The mapping of those addresses shows an interesting distribution. Most of the STIR projects have clustered in three separate locations:
• West End and Downtown near Granville bridge — 8
• Along the Cambie corridor — 6
• Surrounding Norquay — 8
[Note: This map is also available as a downloadable pdf]
Eye on Norquay has previously commented on the deficiencies of one particular Norquay-area STIR project. That coverage includes links to other examinations of the STIR program.
In simple summary, the density-without-amenity approach of STIR shows that the City of Vancouver really has no planning for much of anything besides developer profit. The extreme concentration of STIR projects in the Norquay area also demonstrates that the Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision has flatly lied to area residents:
Each proposal for a new housing type has been made conditional not only on an increase in community facilities and programs needed to serve any population growth generated by the new housing type but also on assurance that parking and traffic impacts would be addressed. [p. 30]
Besides dumping density onto eight sites surrounding Norquay, with no addition whatsoever to the almost nonexistent facilities in Norquay, this initiative further allows these market-rental projects to dispense with normal parking requirements so the developers can have an even fatter bottom line.
Particular interest attaches to five aspects of this rezoning application, which involves an assembly of three separate properties in one trapezoidal parcel of approximately 11,964 sq ft.
1 — This application was made on 14 Dec 2011, just one day prior to the ending of the STIR program that provides large gifts to developers. (STIR means Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing.) See this listing of all STIR projects in Vancouver. Previous Eye on Norquay commentary on STIR includes further references to the nature and effects of this dubious undertaking. [Also see this subsequent comment posted on 18 June 2012.]
2 — The parcel is located at the intersection where the SkyTrain passes under a Slocan Street bridge, to the north, on the east side. Adjacency to SkyTrain transit, and the additional density that location might suggest, seem to be entirely disregarded here.
3 — This location falls just outside the boundaries of Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre and constitutes a one-off spot rezoning with no broader scale planning or regard for context.
4 — Opportunity is being lost for higher quality construction, and for return to the surrounding community through amenity contribution. This STIR project means yet more population increase for Norquay with no corresponding amenity increase whatsoever. Density dumping continues in violation of the Renfrew-Collingwood community vision.
5 — To provide 19 parking stalls for 41 market rental units continues the city planning that seeks to bury Norquay residential streets in the automobiles which inhabitants will not even have a possibility of locating on the property that they rent. This is one more facet of converting public good (open curbside) to privatized benefit (rental building owner whose profit margins are less impacted by usual parking requirements).
Appended below is text copied from
NOTICE of REZONING/DEVELOPMENT PERMIT APPLICATION (DE415814) and COMMUNITY OPEN HOUSE for 4320 Slocan Street — June 12, 2012
which is a pdf of the mailed-out postcard.
Rezoning and Development Permit Application – 4320 Slocan Street (DE415814) consists of 10 typical files provided in pdf format on the City of Vancouver rezoning web site.
* * * * * *
Yenik Realty Ltd. has submitted a concurrent rezoning and development permit application to the City of Vancouver to rezone 4320 Slocan Street from C-1 (Commercial) District to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) District. The proposal is for a 4-storey mixed-use building, comprised of:
• 2 commercial retail units (CRUs);
• 41 residential rental units;
• a floor space ratio (FSR) of 2.11;
• a floor area of 3956 sq m (42585sq.ft.);
• a height of 14.2 m (46.4 ft.); and
• 19 parking stalls, 61 bicycle spaces, 1 car-share space, and 2 loading spaces.
The Open House will be a “drop-in” event where you can view the proposal. City staff and the applicant team will be available to answer your questions and receive your comments.
Community Open House:
Date: Time: Place:
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 — 4:30 to 7:30 pm
Vancouver Public Library — Renfrew Branch
2969 East 22nd Avenue
It may not be too late for you to direct your own emailed comment to the contact person mentioned
in the announcement for the second Avalon open house: Jasmine Kafka at 604-801-5008 or email@example.com
Reporting from digitalmonk on CityHallWatch has included reproduction of 16 panels from the 5 June 2012 Avalon open house, a follow-up to the one held on 2 April 2012. Thanks to this coverage, Eye on Norquay is able to make the following comments on the second Avalon open house, despite having been unable to attend in person.
The Single Open House Problem
If developers and planners were serious about public engagement, they would provide at least the information that CityHallWatch has made available in this instance.
The reality is that such “consultation” seems to hope
• To fly under the radar as much as possible
• To remain difficult to access
• To generate phony evidence to support desired results
Typical of this approach is to schedule single events on relatively short notice, timed to very busy seasons — both of these facets evident in this case.
Paying a visit to the Hywel Jones web site is about like taking a look at a stone wall. A word search conducted there on Avalon produces nothing useful. Any attempt to locate materials on the City of Vancouver web site seems useless, since this is the phase where planners just hang around while the developer puts on the show.
The Opportunity for Input
According to CityHallWatch
The feedback forms for the public were to gauge whether there was a preference for a Pavilion or Rowhouse form of development in a contemporary or tradition style (see panels 9 & 10).
The simplicity of this data gathering is commendable. Any commenter can see the choices clearly and not be mistaken as saying white instead of black. The clarity of binary is good.
A reproduction of the actual comment form by CityHallWatch would have been helpful.
Specific Comments (note three preferences highlighted below)
The open house panels alone make it difficult to conclude a great deal about pavilion style versus rowhome style. Site coverages and heights do not seem to differ between the two. “Pavilion” may be one more way of saying “stacked townhouse”? If that is the case, Eye on Norquay would prefer rowhomes.
The choice between contemporary and traditional seems readily apparent. “Contemporary” seems, more than anything else, to mean flat roof only. Eye on Norquay has already covered the flat roof issue at length in a recent posting. A preference for traditional style seems likely to be expressed as well by the surrounding community (if not by design geeks who would like to treat East Vancouver as a tabula rasa playground) because it integrates with the existing neighborhood. The technical dysfunctionalities of flat roof offer strong additional reason to not want this form injected into this setting.
Additional to the opportunity for comment outlined by CityHallWatch, Avalon open house panel 11 appears to present one additional binary choice: option 1, vehicular greenway access; option 2, pedestrian access only. Eye on Norquay sees nothing green in giving that space over to motor vehicles, and therefore strongly prefers option 2.
After all, the adjacent Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan was supposed to be all about promotion of pedestrian options — even if that blockbusting plan-warping 2300 Kingsway tower was allowed to squeeze the sidewalk down to a minimum and to throw a brand new wide curb cut right across the Kingsway sidewalk!