Archive for October 2016
Resident Concerns Are Heard
On rare occasions in Vancouver, at a public hearing for a proposed new development, local area residents may discover that expressed concerns have been both heard and addressed. On 18 October 2016, the rezoning of 2395-2469 Kingsway met with such a happy outcome.
This site has been identified under the Norquay Plan as one of three locations along Kingsway — in very long blocks along the north side — where new development is supposed to provide pedestrian connection to the street that runs parallel. The rezoning application presented a 12-storey tower built on a two-part podium of 4 storeys, with a connecting bridge at an upper level.
In general, the form of development respected the Norquay Plan. But a letter to Council from residents detailed four concerns:
(1) That more brick be used on the exterior of the buildings.
(2) That the width of the pedestrian connection be increased from 20 feet to 40 feet.
(3) That conditions for landscaping and furniture and maintenance be explicitly specified.
(4) That the “bridge” overhanging the pedestrian connection be removed, with a second elevator provided for the smaller building.
Council members raised all of these concerns at the public hearing. Planning staff responded that the first three items had already been addressed or were in the process of being dealt with. And the applicant affirmed that the bridge would be removed and a second elevator installed in the smaller building.
This is an example of how the development and public hearing process is supposed to work.
The video recording of the public hearing can be seen at
Comment on 17 October 2016 Open House for 2153-2199 Kingsway
On the whole, the development proposed for 2153-2199 Kingsway, as presented at the open house on 17 October 2016, will enhance the local area and provide needed rental accomodation.
The corner at Kingsway and Gladstone is a place-making opportunity, and much of the potential has been realized. I favor the alignment of roofline with the side of the building. The orientation of the building toward the path of the sun means that shadow impact will be minimized in any case. Enhanced sidewalk width along Kingsway toward Gladstone is appreciated.
The orientation of the main residential street entrance toward Gladstone Street is a good choice. That feature will encourage passing social acquaintance of renters with other local area residents.
The location of underground parking entrance toward the western end of the building on the lane side is appropriate. That will somewhat mitigate traffic concerns by distributing activity toward both ends of the lane. At present, pedestrians and cyclists suffer considerable hazard from the blinded lane entry onto Gladstone.
The placement of an underground parking exhaust vent on Gladstone, right beside the residential entrance, is the single greatest failure of the proposal. That vent should be relocated to the lane side, perhaps at the intersection of the T lane running northward, to mitigate impact on sites north of the lane. Efficiency of exhaust suggests that a more midpoint location in the length of the building would better serve the physics of venting than would the far end of 231 feet. The mechanics of providing underground parking spaces must take second place to this concern.
Other public realm concerns toward the Gladstone end of the building include: assurance that Bus Stop and Litter Bin are retained on Kingsway; complete redevelopment of the Gladstone sidewalk to eliminate present extensive curb cuts; specification that all Gladstone curbside is designated for short-period loading/unloading only with absolutely no parking; no parking signage is needed for the 24 foot segment of east-side curb opposite the recently installed corner bulge at Gladstone and Kingsway; relocation of the large black electrical box recently dumped onto the corner.
Everything possible should be done to improve articulation along the 231 feet of the Kingway side of the building. There has been improvement from the pre-application open house. More seems achievable. A 231 foot long battleship should not eradicate a streetscape that presently offers the organic variety of five different faces sited on seven parcels. In the block to the east, the relatively recent C-2 development is only at four storeys and extends only for about 175 feet without interruption.
That 2339 Kingsway development has managed to achieve small-retail without consolidating those spaces or presenting a massive dead face to the street, as Royal Bank notoriously has done at 2300 Kingsway. To quote open house panel 1: this development is supposed to “contribute to an inviting and revitalized pedestrian realm on Kingsway through new retail storefronts.” There seems little excuse for this new development to fall short of achieving that goal.
For the most part, the proposed detailing seems acceptable. The extent of brick and its two colors are welcome. I question the orange that is proposed on two grounds. First is the current prevalence of that color, which promises to make it look dated very soon. Think avocado appliances. The second is how close the orange comes to the intrusive local corporate color of VanCity Credit Union. A shift toward reds would solve these problems and play better with the greens to come at 2220 Kingsway. The variegation of the shades among the panels is a good approach.
Joseph Jones • 19 October 2016
Comment on Rezoning Application at Public Hearing of 18 October 2016
In general, we support this application. We believe that it is consistent with the policy set out in the Norquay Plan for the Kingsway Rezoning Area. We strongly support these added conditions:
• Condition (b)1 (Urban Design) requiring design development to widen the proposed mid-block pedestrian mews and to include integrated permanent seating.
• Condition (b)4 (Urban Design) requiring design development to use more brick masonry.
We encourage staff to continue to address potential road congestion around the site.
We have the following concerns:
1. Public Benefits. The target CAC for the Kingsway Rezoning Area is currently set at $11.08 per sq.ft. of additional density, by far the lowest rate in the five areas of the City of Vancouver that have target CACs. According to the Norquay Public Benefits Strategy, 50% of CACs generated in Norquay are to be allocated to affordable housing. That has been done in this case.
The other two categories that are eligible to receive CAC funding are “Childcare” and “Other Community Facilities.” For this application, staff has allocated the remaining 50% of CACs to a combined category labeled “Childcare and Other Community Facilities.” These are two separate categories in the Public Benefits Policy, and they should receive separate allocations. To date, none of the CACs generated by the three applications in the Kingsway Rezoning Area has been specifically allocated to “Other Community Facilities.” (See CAC Allocations Under the Norquay Plan below.)
The “Other Community Facility” designated by the Norquay Plan is the 15,000 sq.ft. of new community indoor space and the 20,000 sq.ft. of community outdoor space that will be included in the redevelopment of the 2400 Motel site. The City of Vancouver is the owner of this property. We call on the City to move forward as quickly as possible to develop the 2400 Motel site so that Norquay can begin to enjoy the community facility that residents have rated as their most desired amenity.
2. Landscaping. Failure to maintain landscaping is presenting one of the greatest problems in the implementation of the Norquay Plan. Conditions need to be included for this application to specify that:
(a) An irrigation system for the landscaping will be provided.
(b) The development is responsible for maintenance of the landscaping, including the mid-block pedestrian mews and the part of the Kingsway sidewalk on private land.
3. Building Design. We object to the use of a “bridge” to connect the two buildings. The bridge impinges on the pedestrian mews and looms over and shadows what is supposed to be public open space. This concern should outweigh the desire of the applicant to avoid the expense of providing a second elevator for the development.
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
15 October 2016
CAC Allocations under the Norquay Plan 2300 Kingsway * 0 Affordable Housing $2.4 M Childcare 0 Other Community Facilities 0 Other 0 Unallocated 2689 Kingsway 0 Affordable Housing $105,846 Childcare 0 Other Community Facilities 0 Other 0 Unallocated 2220 Kingsway 0 Affordable Housing 0 Childcare $1,011,720 Other Community Facilities ** 0 Other $3 M Unallocated 2395 Kingsway $439,765 Affordable Housing $439,765 Childcare *** 0 Other Community Facilities 0 Other 0 Unallocated * This development was approved as a site specific rezoning in 2006. Construction was completed after the adoption of the Norquay Plan in 2010. It is included here because it is contemporaneous with the Norquay Plan, and because it is a large development generating a significant amount of CACs. ** This amount was allocated to Transportation Infrastructure and to an on-site pocket park. (These categories do not relate to the Public Benefits Strategy.) *** For both Childcare and Other Community Facilities.