We’ve heard rumours from time to time about the possible redevelopment of a large site at 1503 Kingsway in Kensington Cedar-Cottage. We looked into the current status of the Rona Home Centre at this location, and it appears that for now nothing has changed on this site; this hardware store will continue operating for a long time. However, due to the wide application of spot zoning in Vancouver, large retail sites can be particularly vulnerable to mega-project redevelopments.
We’ll examine the Kingsway Rona in more detail as a case study. This retail property is assessed at $15,766,800 and is over 1.5 acres in size. The current zoning is C-2, a zoning that typically allows for 4-storey building construction and a floor space ratio (FSR) of 2.5. The planning for this site was never completed as part of the Kingsway & Knight Neighbourhood Centre Plan. Further details are published on Eye on Norquay on how the City of Vancouver never finished planning the shopping area portion of the Kensington Cedar-Cottage CityPlan (link here).
The Rona property is owned by Delesalle Holdings Ltd. Rona has secured a long-term lease. As well, it has the first right of refusal to purchase the property. However, given the dynamics of land economics in Vancouver, would there be a strong financial case for Rona to purchase this lot for $15.7 million if it were to come up for sale? We can only speculate on this point.
A little further down the street at 2220 Kingsway the former Canadian Tire site was rezoned to allow for a development with three 14-storey towers (Westbank Projects Corp., with architect Henriquez Partners Architects). However, in this case there was a policy context of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Plan that allowed for upzoning to 14-storeys and a FSR of 3.8. This is a larger site at 2.31 acres (or about 50% bigger than the Rona site).
Large sites may be easy pickings for mega-developments. The Canadian Tire site at 2220 Kingsway is just one such example of large projects in the City. The former IGA site on Broadway and Maple and the Safeway site on Granville Street in Marpole are a couple of other examples. It’s worth noting that the possibility of allowing 36-storey towers for the Safeway site near Commercial and Broadway was explored by the City of Vancouver in the first draft landuse plan for Grandview-Woodland.
While Rona is staying put at its Kingsway location, things can change very quickly. In the past Rona has closed some of its stores in Canada (see links here and here). Will the expectation of upzoning continue to put pressures on some of the City’s large retail sites?