Archive for November 2013

Plundered Plaza

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Real estate marketer Magnum Projects held a carnival on 23 November 2013 to kick off sales at 2220 Kingsway (aka Kensington Gardens). The Vancouver Courier obliged with an infomercial four days ahead. [1] A site development model viewable at the event confirms worst fears about the developer’s intention to pervert public space.

Look at the three photographs of the model, go on to read about the policy background, and arrive at your own conclusions about the honesty of adherence to the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan.

    Western Side of 2220 Kingsway Model  [at right]

    Closeup of Northwest Corner 2220 Kingsway Model  [“Plaza / Entrance”]

    Southwest Corner 2220 Kingsway Model  [“Park”]

Norquay Plan

The Norquay Plan [2] anticipated that a

        fully landscaped public plaza … be activated by retail uses on the edges.  (Appendix A, p. 25 of 40)

Here is how the Norquay Plan visualized the plaza:


Before the Norquay Plan got subjected to out-of-the-blue last-minute “considerations” that upped height and FSR by a further 15% to 20%, this is what the plan said about 2220 Kingsway and one other “large site” at Earles:

Special Sites:  In addition, a few select sites are permitted a height increase (with a Rezoning) beyond the six- to eight-storey pattern in exchange for additional at-grade public open space (without an increase in building density above 3.2 FSR (net)):

Large sites (greater than 1 acre) for Public Plazas (up to 12 storeys)  (page 12)

The main point is that the developer would get to build an extra four to six storeys in return for providing significant public space in the form of one at-grade plaza.

2220 Kingsway Rezoning

The rezoning document for 2220 Kingway [3] asserted that the developer would give even more than required.

Open Space and Public Realm

In response to the Norquay Neighbourhood Centre Plan’s objectives to increase pedestrian activity, public street life and neighbourhood vibrancy, the application proposes a number of significant improvements to the public realm. Firstly, the proposal surpasses the Norquay Plan’s requirement for a single 557-743 m 2 (6,000-8,000 sq.ft.) outdoor plaza by contributing two separate open spaces, with a combined area of 1,128 m 2 (12,141 sq.ft.) Proposed at the northwest corner of the site, a 433 m 2 (4,664 sq.ft.) paved plaza with both covered and uncovered public seating arrangements, will contribute to the streetlife of the Kingsway shopping area. A second open space at the southwest corner of the site is also proposed. While the northwest plaza is envisioned as a vibrant urban space, the southwest open space is envisioned as a more park-like setting, set apart from the Kingsway commercial uses with a higher concentration of unpaved grassy areas, soft vegetative landscaping, and some family-oriented features for public use. This 695 m 2 (7,477 sq.ft.) green space will help to address Council’s Greenest City Action Plan goal to increase public parks and green spaces throughout the City.  (page 6)


What would be your answers to these questions:

Do these grudging tacked-on chopped-up public spaces fulfill the Norquay Plan intention for a plaza?

Would any reasonable local Norquay resident prefer having these spaces to having three towers that were four to six storeys lower than the fourteen scheduled to be built?

Does the building entrance at the northwest corner look like it could possibly provide public seating arrangements or be activated by retail?

Does the park at the southwest corner offer higher concentration of unpaved grassy areas and soft vegetative landscaping?

How much of the park at the southwest corner is in the process of being sneakily clawed back through not-at-grade open space for use by the restaurant rather than the public?

Will even the minimal conditions of development [4] be respected?

More and more, 2220 Kingsway / Kensington Gardens looks like City of Vancouver abetting a major developer in a nasty scam of all-take-no-give.

*   *   *   *   *   *

[1]  Carnival planned to help sell Kingsway condos

[2]  Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan

[3]  CD-1 Rezoning: 2220 Kingsway

[4]  Response to Conditions for Development Permit for 2220 Kingsway


Written by eyeonnorquay

23 November 2013 at 10:16 pm