Kingsway in Vancouver
Kingsway wanders for 6.8 diagonal kilometers across East Vancouver, running from East 7th Avenue to Boundary Road. During the past decade, real estate industry condo pushers have started making their moves along East Vancouver’s prime artery.
At the far western end, Kingsway has suffered the now legendary tortures of community planning for Mount Pleasant and peak resistance to Rize-Alliance spot rezoning at 180 Kingsway. At the far eastern end, Kingsway has suffered the three-acre plus consolidation of 33 parcels for the three huge towers of Wall Central Park.
The 1.4 km of Kingsway from Gladstone Street to Killarney Street bisects Norquay. (That one mile equals a fifth of Vancouver’s piece of Kingsway.) The contentious 2010 Norquay Plan disregarded policy fundamentals in order to upzone the entire stretch of Kingsway. The City of Vancouver then quietly abandoned years of multimillion-dollar planning that was based on a notion of creating a series of “neighbourhood centres.” After that never-signaled U-turn, Vancouver city planning has become an exercise in carving up the entire city into a network of corridors.
Eye on Norquay has decided to monitor all large scale development along all of Kingsway, including the western 3.7 km from East 7th Avenue to Gladstone Street, and the eastern 1.7 km from Killarney Street to Boundary Road.
Now, in April 2014, thirteen projects are listed in the first-release version of
which occupies a permanent position in the sidebar to the right.
This attempt to compile basic standardized comparative data on Kingway development relies mainly on extraction from the inconsistent, transient, obfuscated documents that City of Vancouver does make available. Links will go dead, because City of Vancouver rapidly and routinely disappears the developer-generated documents that are posted during the period of application for development and rezoning. For an outright application like 2239 Kingsway, no municipal information is ever published. Council-related documents (reports, summaries, by-laws, amendments, etc) take varied form and lie painfully scattered and buried.
Where there is no comparability, how can there be any real accountability? What is an open data policy worth when this kind of information is so obstructed?
The first Kingsway condo tower project, King Edward Village, occupies much of a triangle formed with East King Edward Avenue to the south and Knight Street to the west. Construction occurred in fuzzy relationship with concurrent planning for Vancouver’s first “neighbourhood centre.” This was hit-and-run planning, consisting only of a spot rezoning for King Edward Village and a mass rezoning of 1600 single-family homes. Eye on Norquay has already documented the sad story of King Edward Village and the never-completed neighbourhood centre planning for Kingsway and Knight.
The second Kingsway condo tower project, the Eldorado site at Nanaimo, (eventually called 2300 Kingsway) set out to blockbust Norquay only two months ahead of the community planning that should have preceded and created context for the development. That sneak spot rezoning hammered a one-off 22-storey tower into Norquay.
Both of these first two condo attacks along Kingsway leaned heavily on the get-rid-of-a-nuisance tactic. At East King Edward, a restrictive Safeway covenant saw an abandoned grocery store morph into a flea-market magnet for trouble. At Nanaimo, a combination of liquor store and bar and seedy motel generated predictable activities into past-bedtime hours. This cynical tool abused people living nearby into ready condo submission.
The third condo attack, 2699 Kingsway / Skyway Towers, like the second one, landed in Norquay. Nothing more needs to be said than that the developer’s application went in two days ahead of approval of the Norquay Plan. Note: the failed phase one (2006-2007) of the Norquay Plan saw heavy involvement by the property owner.
Within Norquay, the worst condo attack by far has been the latest. In 2012-2013 Westbank steamrolled over residents and the Norquay Plan with 2220 Kingsway / Kensington Gardens. Extensive effort and comment resulted in no modifications to an unprecedented, unfriendly incursion of a fortress gated community. (Who would have thought that gateway in the Norquay Plan would produce portcullis?)
Of particular interest are
• Projects located in Norquay
• STIR and Rental 100 projects
STIR, followed by Rental 100, stripmine East Vancouver public realm by waiving the DCL and CAC fees that should be contributing to growing amenity in step with development. A mapping of STIR demonstrates that Norquay has suffered disproportionate impact as one of three nodes of concentration for this 2009-2011 City of Vancouver handout to developers.