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First Three Triplexes

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Triplexes are the most dense form of development permitted on standard single lots in Norquay’s RM-7 Rowhouse/Stacked Townhouse zone,. Since 2013 nine triplex applications have been approved. Three projects have been completed (see photos). The remaining six projects await start of construction.
 

 

 
     5189 Clarendon Street — Configuration One — Completed 2016
 

 
Unit Configuration

 
The factor that most affects the livability of a triplex unit is how the units are configured within the building. In these nine applications, three different unit configurations have been brought forward.

 
Configuration Type One  —
Two side-by-side units, with one other unit (usually at the back) extended across the width of the building. Some of these units are long and narrow. This configuration works best on a corner lot, where the third unit can front onto a side street. Each unit is usually three storeys, each requiring a separate set of space-consuming stairs.

 
Configuration Type Two  —
Two 2-level units on the upper storeys with one unit situated at the basement (“garden”) level. The upper units may be either front-back on narrower lots, or side-by-side on wider, shallower lots. With wider units, fewer inside stairways are required.

 
Configuration Type Three  —
One unit on each level. The two units on the first and second levels are accessed by outside stairs. Only the upper storey requires provision of an inside stairway. This configuration seems optimal, providing the greatest amount of usable space and the most flexibility for unit layout. One of the three applications proposing this configuration is nearing completion at 2743 Duke Street. COVID-19 restrictions likely will preclude the open house that would provide an opportunity to examine the inside of that building.

 
The application for 4856 Slocan Street (configuration type two) proposes a triplex with a fourth unit in a separate building at the back of the lot — in essence, a laneway house. The additional unit was permitted because of the lot’s exceptional 172-foot depth. This project was designed to match the adjoining apartment building, which was constructed by the same developer.
 

 

 
     5002 Highgate Street — Configuration One — Completed 2018
 

 
Other Considerations

 
Unit Size  —
Most units are 3-bedroom and have an area of approximately 1000 – 1100 square feet.

 
Affordability  —
A unit of 1100 square feet was advertised in 2016 for $1M. A unit of 1300 square feet was advertised in 2018 for $1.2M. A unit of 940 square feet is being advertised in 2020 for $900,000.

 
Roofline  —
Four of the applications feature a gabled roof and five feature a flat or low-pitched shed roof. Flat roofs must be set back from the front of the building. There are very few flat-roofed single family houses in Norquay. To respect neighbourhood context, flat roofs should be restricted to sites on corners, on arterial streets, or adjacent to other flat-roofed buildings (e.g. schools, apartment buildings, or stacked townhouses).

 
Open space  —
Each unit is to have some private open space, either at ground level or in the form of a balcony. In practice, it has been difficult to fulfill this requirement. Ground level open space is at a premium, and most of it is shared. One application features a shared roof garden.

 
Secondary suites  —
These are not permitted in the RM-7 zone. One unit of a triplex may contain a lock-off unit.

 
Parking  —
The RM-7 parking requirement for vehicles is two open spaces for every 3 units. There is no parking requirement for lock-off units. All triplex projects in Norquay provide 3 on-site vehicle parking spaces. Bicycle parking spaces are required as per the Parking By-Law (currently 2.5 spaces for each unit with a minimum area of 65 square metres, and 1.5 spaces for each smaller unit). Functional placement of bicycle parking spaces presents a challenge in all RM-7 building forms.
 

 

 
     2743 Duke Street — Configuration Three — Completed 2020
 

 

Specifications for Triplex


Minimum Site Size:  303 square metres (3260 square feet). Sites larger
than 445 square metres (4790 square feet) are permitted 4 or more units.

Floor Space Ratio:  0.90

Maximum Height:  11.5 metres / 37.5 feet

 

 
Norquay Sites Approved for Triplexes


Address                       Application Date         Configuration Type


5189 Clarendon Street         2014 October 16          One

5002 Highgate Street          2015 March 2             One

2711 Ward Street              2018 January 5           Two

2632 Ward Street              2018 April 4             One

2743 Duke Street              2018 June 7              Three

2726 Ward Street              2018 August 15           Three

5385 Earles Street            2020 February 13         One

4856 Slocan Street            2020 February 10         Two

2775 Ward Street              2020 April 8             Three

 
 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

7 July 2020 at 8:40 pm

5385 Earles Street

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Comment on Development Application DP-2020-00002
under RM-7 Zoning

 
https://development.vancouver.ca/pc5385earles/DevelopmentApplicationInformation5385EarlesStreet-DP-2020-00002.htm
 

 

 

26 February 2020
 

 
We are disappointed to see that a flat roof is proposed for this mid-block project. As the “streetscape” page of the application makes all too clear, this project would overwhelm the small houses on either side. The perceived mass of this building needs to be reduced by designing for a sloped roof.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

[Posted 7 April 2020]
 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

26 February 2020 at 11:12 am

Posted in RM-7 Comment

5092 Slocan Street

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Comment on Development Application DP-2020-00019
under RM-7 Zoning

 
https://development.vancouver.ca/pc5092sslocan/DevelopmentApplicationInformation5092SlocanStreet-DP-2020-00019.htm
 

 

 

26 February 2020
 

 
Based on the limited information available on the Development Applications web site, this project appears to be well designed. It should fit in well with the four-plex project that has been approved in the same block.

Our main concerns are with the requests for relaxations.

 
Horizontal angle of daylight. Presumably this proposed relaxation would result in bedrooms whose only window is on the side of the building. In this case, careful placement of windows should ensure that they do not look into the windows of the adjoining residence. Should the adjoining property be redeveloped in the future, window placement will become an even greater concern.

 
Parking stalls. The applicant is asking to relax the number of parking stalls from 5 to 4. The parking requirement for the RM-7 zone (0.65 per unit) is already minimal. Bus service along Kingsway has been downgraded and schedule is unpredictable. These units are large and will house families, who will likely have cars. Five parking spaces are definitely necessary. Designating one parking space as “accessible” would not be a realistic solution in the RM-7 zone, where multiple stairways make the units unattractive to people with mobility issues.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

[Posted on 7 April 2020]
 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

26 February 2020 at 11:11 am

Posted in RM-7 Comment

4770 Duchess Street

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Comment on Development Application DP-2019-00003
under RM-7 Zoning

 
https://development.vancouver.ca/pc4770duchess/index.htm
 

 

 

20 February 2019
 

This application for a sixplex is a minor reworking of the application by Gradual Architecture for 2679 Horley Street (Development Application Number DE419937). We have several concerns:

 
1 —  Living Room Windows in the Long, Narrow Units

In the long, narrow units (one on each floor), the living room is located in the middle of the unit. The windows of the upper unit look out on the neighbouring house and the windows of the lower unit look out on either the neighbouring house or a fence (it is difficult to tell from the materials provided). Living room windows should look out on the street. This should definitely be possible on a corner site like this one. Our comment on the application for 2679 Horley Street included the same concern.

 
2 —  Roofline

There are too many separate roofs, and they are not well aligned. The development at 2679 Horley also had problems with the roofline, which were corrected in the final build-out.

 
3 —  Façade Facing Cheyenne Street

The façade facing Duchess Street Street is acceptable. The façade facing Cheyenne Street needs to be less busy and more symmetrical.

 
4 —  Lock-Off Units

The application includes 3 lock-off units. Only 1 lock-off unit for every 3 principal units is permitted by RM-7 zoning. This project is entitled to 2 lock-off units. Given that the submission date for the application is January 7, 2019, the lock-off units should not exceed the maximum size of 29.7 m2, mandated by the amendments to the Lock-Off Unit Guidelines approved by Council on October 30, 2018.

 
5 —  Bike Lockers

Bike lockers should not be made of flimsy metal. If they cannot be incorporated into the main building, a small wooden structure is preferable.

 
Please address these concerns before approving this application.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

20 February 2019 at 11:11 am

Posted in RM-7 Comment

2711 Ward Street

with 2 comments

 

Comment on Development Application DP-2017-01152
under RM-7 Zoning

 
http://development.vancouver.ca/pc2711ward/index.htm
 

 

 

15 January 2018
 

 
Form of Development

1.  The use of different materials on the outside of the building to differentiate the units within is interesting.

2.  The proposed two-bedrooms are appropriate for units of this size. Trying to squeeze three bedrooms into units of less than 1100 sq. ft. usually results in some bedrooms that are far too small.

3.  This is the first application in the RM-7 zone to propose a flat roof on a project located mid-block on a residential street. Norquay contains very few flat-roofed single family houses. Duplexes in Norquay are required to have sloped roofs. The 16-unit RM-7 project under construction at 2719 Ward Street also features sloped roofs.

Because this proposal for Norquay’s first large roof deck is adjacent to a 16-unit stacked townhouse project, we are not objecting to the roof style in this case. But in general, flat-roofed RM-7 projects should continue to be located either on arterial streets or very close (across the street or adjacent) to the 4-storey apartment RM-9 zone. This has been the practice since the RM-7 zoning regulations were approved in 2013. The result is that new projects in the RM-7 zone fit in better with existing neighbourhood context and character than they would if flat roofs were to be approved indiscriminately.

 
Landscaping

We approve of the use of ornamental plantings and ground covers rather than small areas of grass, which are difficult to maintain. We make the following minor suggestions:

1.  The side yard on the west side of the building is marked as an inaccessible area of gravel. At least limited access will be necessary if that side of the structure work requires work in the future.

2.  English ivy is proposed between a part of the 4-ft. wide east walkway and the fence. Our experience of English ivy is that it will need to be trained to the metal string lattice in front of the fence. Once established, English ivy is a rampant grower that will need frequent pruning to keep it manageable in such a narrow space. As an invasive species, it is generally undesirable. Many new homeowners in Norquay are not gardeners. We suggest eliminating the English ivy along the east fence. There should, however, be plantings to screen the garbage/recycling area from the back patio.

Overall the design of this project shows imagination and care.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

15 January 2018 at 11:11 am

Posted in RM-7 Comment

2725/2731 Duke Street

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Comment on Development Application DP-2017-00819
under RM-7 Zoning

 
http://development.vancouver.ca/pc2725duke/index.htm
 

 

 

9 October 2017
 

This development seems to be an acceptable implementation of the RM-7 zoning for stacked townhouses.

We have several comments regarding the landscaping.

1.  We are pleased to see that the large pine tree on city property in front of the house is to be retained. However, we question the plan to plant a considerable area of lawn underneath the tree. Grass cannot compete with a large evergreen for water or nutrients, and the existing grassy area under the tree is in very poor condition. We suggest that a drought tolerant ground cover be planted instead. The ornamental plants specified for this location seem like good choices.

2.  In a similar nearby rowhouse development at 2761-2767 Duke Street, the clematis specified in the landscape plan to cover the wooden trellis over the parking spaces has not been planted. We believe that there has been some confusion over a condition in the Prior-To letter, where the developer was asked to provide “more substantial, woody shrubs … to create unit identity and privacy” (Landscape Review Condition 1.13.1). The developer has planted rows of cedars instead of, and not in addition to, the specified clematis (see photo following). Consequently the trellis remains bare. If a similar condition is imposed for this application, it needs to be carefully worded to avoid a similar outcome.

3.  An irrigation system for the ornamental plantings needs to be specified if this has not already been done.

Please send a copy of the Prior-To letter when it is ready.

 
Jeanette and Joseph Jones
 

 

 
 

Written by eyeonnorquay

9 October 2017 at 9:34 pm

Posted in RM-7 Comment