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2153-2199 Kingsway

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Comment on 17 October 2016 Open House for 2153-2199 Kingsway

 
eon-161019-2153-2199kingsway-panel8
 

Development Application
http://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/2153kingsway/index.htm

 
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
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

19 October 2016 at 3:27 pm

2395-2469 Kingsway

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Comment on Rezoning Application at Public Hearing of 18 October 2016

Rezoning Application
http://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/2395-2443kingsway/index.htm

Public Hearing
http://council.vancouver.ca/20161018/phea20161018ag.htm

 
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.

 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

15 October 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in Comments

New RM-9A Zone

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Comment Made to City of Vancouver on the Proposed Zone and Design Guidelines for the Norquay Village Transition Area (RM-9A), Presented at an Open House on 23 September 2015

28 September 2015

 
The proposed new zoning regulations accord with the Norquay Village Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy of 2013 in the following ways:

        •  Maximum height is l3.7 m / 45 ft
        •  Minimum frontage is 15.2 m / 50 ft
        •  Front, rear, and side yard setbacks have not changed (although more discretion is allowed
            for variation)
        •  Building setbacks have changed slightly
        •  Courtyard width has been reduced by more than 10% — from 9.1 m / 30 ft to 8 m / 26 ft
        •  FSR remains the same
        •  Unit density remains the same for apartment buildings
        •  Parking is underground [with new clarification: at least one parking space per unit must be provided]
        •  Amenity contribution is $162 per sq m / $15 per sq ft

In these respects the proposed zoning for the most part implements the spirit and intent of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan of 2010.

However, one major change raises great concern. The proposed zoning regulations would allow multiple stacked townhouses to be built on sites larger than 7212 square feet. This area is equivalent to two 33 x 110 ft. lots. The change would make it possible to build stacked townhouses in most of the RM-9A zone. Under the Transition Area Rezoning Policy, only a single 4-storey apartment building has been possible on any site in this zone.

 
Stacked townhouses should not be permitted in the RM-9A zone for the following reasons:

 
1 —  To allow stacked townhouses in this zone would reduce housing options in Norquay instead of increasing them. The design guidelines for apartments in this zone result in units with desirable features. The “alphabet-shaped” buildings have front or rear courtyards and more than four corners. Consequently the larger units have multiple exposures to encourage natural light and ventilation. They offer a very attractive option to many people.

The RM-9A zone is the only place in Norquay where 4-storey apartments can be built on residential streets. The far larger rowhouse/stacked townhouse zone (RM-7) already allows for enough of the stacked townhouse form. Developers are building many stacked townhouses in the RM-7 zone (14 proposals since 2013), but very few rowhouses (1 proposal since 2013). A similar outcome for the RM-9A zone would seriously compromise the design of the Norquay Plan. It seems likely that developers will be tempted to avoid the cost of an elevator by building stacked townhouses, even though the allowable density is less.

 
2 —  Stacked townhouses will not be accessible to people with mobility issues — seniors, persons with disabilities, young children and others. There is no elevator in stacked townhouses, only multiple flights of stairs. The Norquay Plan (p. 6) claims as a foundation the CityPlan direction

         To increase neighbourhood housing variety, so that people will have more opportunities
         to live in neighbourhoods at various ages and stages in their lives.

In addition, concern for appropriate seniors housing was expressed repeatedly during the 2009 Norquay process. Seniors who downsize from single-family homes are supposed to be able to “age in place.” Many of them would like to continue to live on one of Norquay’s residential streets rather than in a tower on Kingsway. They will not be able to do this in buildings without elevators.

 
3 —  Developers should not need further incentives to initiate new construction in the new RM-9A zone. Most small developers have not been prepared or willing to go through the expensive and time-consuming rezoning process required by the Rezoning Policy. Even so, three proposals for apartment buildings in this zone have already been made public within the past 18 months (one formal application and two pre-application open houses). Taken together, these three projects propose to redevelop 10 properties out of approximately 250 — a rate of 4%. According to developer representatives, Norquay can expect an increase in the number of proposals when the RM-9A District Schedule and Guidelines replace the Rezoning Policy, even if the only building form allowed is 4-storey apartments.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

27 September 2015 at 11:35 pm

Posted in Comments

Landscaping Concerns

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On 30 July 2015 the following formal comment was submitted to three City of Vancouver planners having responsibilities for urban landscape, urban design, and development planning.

 
Norquay’s residential zones are being redeveloped with duplexes, small houses, and townhouses. Since the new zoning came into effect in Spring 2013, more than 50 duplexes have been approved outright in Norquay, and more than 15 have been completed and landscaped. A few single family houses have also been built during this time. Construction has not yet begun on any projects in the RM-7 (rowhouse or stacked townhouse) zone. One 8-unit project is nearing completion and has been landscaped in the RT-11 (small house/duplex) zone. One 4-unit project on a single lot has been completed in the apartment transition zone.

These comments are based on observations of the front yard landscaping around these newly completed residences and on inferences from landscape plans of recently approved multi-family projects.

 
I.  Lawns

Most of the new front yard lawns that have been planted in Norquay within the past few months are now dead or dying. Virtually all grass that has been recently planted on boulevards has died. This was already happening when Vancouver’s watering restrictions were at Stage 1, as the picture below (taken on 24 June 2015) shows.

 
IMG_8241-640
 

In one completed project, the areas of grass in the front yards are green, but they have not been cut (possibly because they are too small to be cut with a lawnmower). The grass is now about 10 inches long.

 
Comment and Suggestions:

1.  Climate change increases the possibility of drought. Areas planted with grass should be kept to a minimum, especially in multi-family projects.

2.  Where grass is planted, the grassy area should be a reasonable size (no tiny pockets), be easy to access, and have a shape that facilitates mowing and edging. If the area is shady, a type of grass that grows well in shade should be planted. Grass should not be planted under conifers or under any large existing tree.

3.  Developers should be required to adequately water new landscaping before new residents move in. Perhaps during the hottest months of the year, landscaping should be deferred until cooler weather.

4.  Residents of newly landscaped properties should be given information about the care and maintenance of their landscaping when they move in. Specific instructions should be given about watering requirements and restrictions, and about how to apply for a special watering permit if a new lawn has been planted.

5.  It seems likely that many residents of new housing have no previous experience in gardening with ornamental plants and lawns, especially with newly planted ones {new plantings}. They may expect their brown lawns to recover in the fall. It would be beneficial for the City of Vancouver or the VSB to run a two-hour course in the spring in both English and Mandarin/Cantonese on caring for new lawns.

6.  Residents of new buildings should be made aware that they are responsible for the care and maintenance of the boulevard that borders their property, as well as for picking up any litter that collects on the boulevard or in the gutter. They need to be encouraged to water new boulevard trees.

 
II.  Trees and Shrubs

Few trees have been planted in front of duplexes or single family houses. Where shrubs have been planted, many of them are currently dead or dying. In the almost-completed RT-11 project at Killarney Ridge (East 41st and Killarney), many trees and shrubs on the south and west edges of the property have died even before the new residents have moved in.

In general, the landscaping plants being used in RT-11 and RM-7 projects seem to be appropriately low maintenance and reasonably drought tolerant. But new plantings need to be watered regularly until they are established.

In one completed project, an automatic watering system ensures that plantings are adequately watered.

 
Comment and Suggestions:

1.  If not already required, an automated watering system should be made mandatory for all planted areas in multi-family developments to ensure that they are adequately watered.

2.  It would be beneficial for the City of Vancouver or the VSB to run a night course of several sessions in late winter or early spring in both English and Mandarin/Cantonese on gardening with ornamental plants.

3.  Where the required 4 ft. allowance between buildings and the fence is not a walkway, this low- visibility area should be covered either in gravel placed over an effective weed inhibitor with a hardy ground cover such as periwinkle. Any other type of planting will be difficult to access and care for. There will be times people need to walk in this space, and to set up ladders and other equipment.

 
III.  Walkways

The surface for walkways should not be stepping stones or gravel. A surface of concrete or pavers is easier to maintain, to walk on and to shovel when there is snow.

 
Jeanette Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

10 August 2015 at 10:28 am

Stealthy Redefinition?

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Ground-Oriented Buildings in Vancouver Residential Areas

 
The City of Vancouver appears to be attempting to redefine “ground-oriented building form” under Interim Rezoning Policy (IRP) to include a higher building form located off-arterial with almost no ground-level access. IRP is a city-wide policy introduced in 2012 that has seen little take-up so far, but a policy which is reported to have spurred considerable land-assembly speculation across Vancouver.

An Open House for a proposed development under the IRP at 3365 Commercial Drive / 1695-1775 East 18th Avenue was held on 21 May 2015. The site includes 5 lots of varying sizes (one of them presently owned by City of Vancouver). The developer proposes a secured market rental apartment building complex consisting of a 6-storey wing fronting on Commercial and a 4-storey wing fronting on 18th Avenue. A shared entrance and elevator join the two wings. Five for-sale ground-oriented units at the western edge of the site are offered as transition to adjacent RS-2 zoning.

 
siteplan
 

The IRP states that “mid-rise forms up to a maximum of 6 storeys” may be considered if they front on arterials. In this case, a 6-storey building is proposed to front on Commercial Drive. “Within approximately 100 metres of an arterial street ” (i.e. behind the apartment building), the IRP permits “ground-oriented forms up to a maximum of 3.5 storeys, which is generally sufficient height to include small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, and courtyard row houses.”

 
1.  Current Definition of “Ground-Oriented Building Form”

Until now, the phrase “ground-oriented forms” has been understood to mean “small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses, and courtyard row houses,” as specified in the IRP. The description does not include 4-storey apartment buildings.

 
2.  Apparent New Definition

In the case of this application, we understand that three of the ground-level units in the 4-storey building are to have ground-level entries, although only one such unit shows on the floor plan. The City seems to be implying that the presence of these ground floor units with ground-level entries allows the entire 23-unit wing fronting on 18th Avenue to qualify as a “ground-oriented building form.”

Planners at the Open House referenced examples in other parts of Vancouver – multi-storey apartment buildings where a few of the ground floor units have private, ground-level entries. This weak analogy provides no basis for redefining a clear specification by IRP. An apartment building containing a few units that have private ground-level entries does not magically become a ground-oriented building form.

 
3.  Implications

A 4-storey apartment building has much greater density than other low-rise forms. For example, in Norquay, the maximum allowable FSR is 0.9 for the RT-11 zone (small house/duplex), 1.2 for the RM-7 zone (rowhouse/stacked townhouse) and 2.0 in the transition rezoning policy (for 4-storey apartments). The allowable unit density per hectare is 74 for RT-11, 132 for RM-7, and 240 in the transition rezoning policy for 4-storey apartments. To allow the City of Vancouver to redefine this term through precedent would have huge implications not only for IRP projects, but for all City policies that include the words “ground-oriented building form.”

There is a real shortage of small house/duplexes, traditional row houses, stacked townhouses and courtyard row houses in Vancouver. They are a true transitional form that combines features of both single family houses (private ground-level entries, easily accessible open space) and apartment buildings ( attached side walls, shared parking). The stated intent of the IRP is to encourage the building of these housing forms between the apartment buildings on the arterials and single family residential areas.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

4 June 2015 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Comments, IRP

Galt Street Sidewalks

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Absence of sidewalks in the general area of the Rental 100 development proposed for 2312-2328 Galt Street subjects all pedestrians to unsafe conditions and puts children at special risk. Streets are lined in red below where there are no sidewalks.

 
galtsidewalks
 

The site is one block west of Nanaimo Street and one block north of Kingsway. This location is subject to Norquay’s Apartment Transition Area Rezoning Policy. The proposed 28 units are all 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom, appropriate spaces to accommodate families. Units range in size from 630 sq. ft. to 1090 sq. ft.

Key walking distances for the location include one block to General Brock Park, about three blocks to the Terry Taylor Daycare Centre, 800 meters to Norquay Elementary School, and 700 meters to Gladstone Secondary School. The routes for buses 19, 25, and 33 are nearby, and the Nanaimo Skytrain Station lies 700 meters to the north.

Does this sound like a good location for family housing? It is. But lack of sidewalks presents a major problem. Residents of this building would not be able to reach any destination without walking in the street. The only sidewalk in the immediate area fronts nine contiguous recently developed properties just to the west, along the south side of Galt Street. But this small section of recent developer-provided sidewalk connects to nothing — appended Photo 1 of 5.

To permit this development in this location would clearly contravene longstanding City of Vancouver policy:

Families with children should have reasonable and effective access to essential community services and recreational amenities. … Effective access means a walking route which is both safe … and secure (having an environment suitable for elementary school children).
High Density Housing for Families With Children Guidelines  (Section 2.1)

If this development proposal is approved, a condition of that approval must see the City of Vancouver commit to extending existing partial sidewalk eastward along the south side of Galt Street to make connection to Nanaimo Street. The steep grade and the semi-blind corner make this portion of the street an especially hazardous place to be walking. Even now, 100% use of available Galt Street curb parking is common — appended Photo 2 of 5. The reduced on-site underground parking requirement of Rental 100 can only exacerbate this already untenable situation. The great number of routinely parked curbside vehicles reduces available road space, increases traffic in the area, and impairs visibility for both drivers and pedestrians as they access roadway for sidewalk use.

Furthermore, a new connecting sidewalk must be provided along one side of Baldwin Street, for the entire block, to provide safe access to General Brock Park. The curve on Baldwin Street means a driver cannot see from one end of the block to the other — appended Photos 3 of 5 and 4 of 5.

The underground parking that serves the 94 residential units of 2239 Kingsway has already greatly increased traffic flow along Galt Street and Baldwin Street — appended Photo 5 of 5.

The City of Vancouver’s Transportation 2040 planning document states:

        Pedestrians will continue to be the City’s top transportation priority.  (p. 19)

The City of Vancouver must respect its own stated priority for pedestrians.
 

 
Photo Appendix
 

 
IMG_8131
 
     Photo 1 of 5 — Eastern End of Galt Street Sidewalk Section
 

 
IMG_8129
 
     Photo 2 of 5 — Curb Parking Unavailable along Galt Street (Morning of 11 April 2015)
 

 
IMG_8130
 
     Photo 3 of 5 — View to North along Baldwin Street (from Proposed Galt Street Site)
 

 
IMG_8135
 
     Photo 4 of 5 — View to South along Baldwin Street (from Brock Park)
 

 
IMG_8132
 
     Photo 5 of 5 — Lane Connecting 2239 Kingsway Underground Parking to Galt Street
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

12 April 2015 at 11:48 pm

5500 Dundee Street

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On 21 February 2014 Fuho Design Ltd. submitted a conditional development application for 5500 Dundee Street (changed from 5522 Dundee).

        http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/developmentservices/devapps/pc5500dundee/index.htm

The application seeks approval

        to construct a two-storey plus basement, two-family dwelling and two, two-storey,
        one-family dwellings, providing four parking spaces at the rear.

City of Vancouver will receive comments on, or before March 10, 2014 “to be considered as part of the application’s review.”

The site plan for the proposal shows cookie-cutter design being dropped into a location with very unusual configuration. See the site plan for yourself:

 
2-siteplan
 

It seems clear that this crude approach to layout of development on the site fails to conform to a key specification of the RT-11 zoning approved at public hearing.

The same applicant, Fuho Design Ltd., is responsible for at least three other concurrent applications in Norquay: 2748 E. 40th Ave, 2351 E. 41st Ave, 4517 Nanaimo St. Examination of all four of these plans makes it possible to discover the cookie cutter factor.

Jeanette Jones has prepared and submitted a carefully considered comment on the development application for 5500 Dundee Street.

This application (taken together with a previous application for 5494 Dundee) raises a further question about Norquay public realm. These two properties lie adjacent to City of Vancouver land that is designated as “unopened lane.” It would be appropriate at this point for City of Vancouver to commit to pedestrian-oriented enhancement of these two connectors.

Such a token of good faith in implementation of the Norquay Plan would be welcomed by residents who have seen much development take place, attended by very little of the promised paybacks.
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

26 February 2014 at 4:42 pm