“Pre-application” open house for 1550 Alberni Street, could be 50 storeys: Monday, June 29, 5 pm

Map of 1550 Albernia area

Map of 1550 Alberni area

E-mail notices from the City of Vancouver and developer are circulating about the following:

Westbank/Peterson “pre-application” open house for 1550 Alberni Street (and Cardero)
Monday, June 29, 2015
5 to 8 pm (drop-in format)
Shangri-La Hotel  (Conway Room, 6th floor, 1128 West Georgia Street)

This is a developer-hosted pre-application open house to present preliminary plans. For more information: Sophie Perndl, Brook Pooni Associates (sperndl@brookpooni.com). The developers are Westbank Projects Corp (CEO Ian Gillespie) and Peterson Investment Group (President Ben Yeung), well-known names at City Hall’s planning offices.

Aerial view of 1550 Alberni area

Aerial view of 1550 Alberni area

No other information appears to be available officially available about the specific plans for this site, however, below is a compilation of some observations, from land assessments, Vancouver Sun, and a skycraper-lovers’ blog. It appears a 500-foot height (about 50 storeys) residential tower is possible where now stands an 8-storey office building.

A rezoning public hearing will be required.

Current 8-storey office building at 1550 Alberni

Current 8-storey office building at 1550 Alberni

And other neighbourhoods undergoing community planning processes, take note. While the City kept the residents of the West End distracted with rainbow-coloured sidewalks during the 2012-2013 West End Community Plan process, it appears City planners were having serious discussions with select developers, including Westbank, Bosa, and Wall Financial — who also happen to be major political donors for the ruling regime in Vancouver. Worth reading: “Real Estate Boom Projected For Vancouver’s West End: A new community plan unlocks value—and development potential … West End” (BIV, Margo Harper, June 17, 2014). Perhaps this is what community plans are really about in Vancouver.

According to Vanmap, significant changes occurred in assessed values at 1550 Alberni from 2014 to 2015. Could the 43% land value escalation been a windfall profit from the newly-adopted West End Community Plan? That would be the land lift from rezoning. The current office building was built in 1972.

2014 2015 % change $ change
Land  $        24,694,000  $        35,194,000 43% increase  $10.5 million increase
Improvements  $          8,575,000  $          6,806,000 79% decrease  $1.8 million decrease
Total  $        33,271,014  $        42,002,015 26% increase  $8.7 million increase

ARTICLE IN VANCOUVER SUN

Current 8-storey office building at 1550 Alberni, photo credit Vancouver Sun

Current 8-storey office building at 1550 Alberni, photo credit Vancouver Sun

Vancouver House developer Westbank secures new West End outpost: Company buys office building slated for redevelopment for $47 million (by Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun, 8-April-2015)

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Vancouver+House+developer+Westbank+secures+West+outpost/10955914/story.html

Excerpts

  • Westbank Projects Corp., the developer building the high-profile Vancouver House project and Telus Garden office tower and adjacent condo complex, has secured a new development prospect in Vancouver’s West End for $47 million, Macdonald Commercial Real Estate Services reports.
  • A spokeswoman for Westbank confirms that the company has bought the eight-storey office building at 1550 Alberni St., but could not elaborate on any plans the firm has for a property with redevelopment potential to become “a trophy residential development” site.
  • … Zoned for comprehensive development, the site falls within the so-called Georgia corridor within the City of Vancouver’s West End Community Plan, an area designated to “strategically locate opportunities for new growth,” where the city will entertain increased building heights and densities.
  • … Records show that the property firm Wicklow West Holdings Ltd. bought the 1550 Alberni street building in 1996 for $9.4 million. The new selling price of just over $47 million for the 100,000-square-foot building works out to about $470 per square foot. [WEN note: Not bad — 500% increase in 20 years.]
  • Macdonald Commercial broker Clare Stevens said he had known the owners for about a decade and first approached them with an offer from Westbank in mid 2014, but Wicklow didn’t indicate it would entertain offers until toward the end of the year.

*********

Some chatter on the skyscraper lovers’ blog…

The Skyscraper Page

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=217670

Excerpt from 24-June-2015

A friend has just been sent this invitation to view this new project on Alberni. I don’t know where the open house is.

Westbank is working with Kengo Kuma, who is a very good architect.

here is the invite:

‘Westbank and Peterson are working on a project that will redefine the gateway to the city. Please join us for our upcoming open house for 1550 Alberni Street on June 29th.

We have recently engaged renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma for his first major project in North America. Kuma is celebrated worldwide as one of the most innovative architects of his time. His work ranges from private homes to public institutions, from high-rise residential buildings to interior spaces. Kuma has had a profound impact on urban design in his native Japan and internationally and Westbank is thrilled to bring his design aesthetic to Vancouver.

For more information on Kengo Kuma and Associates’ work visit http://kkaa.co.jp/

We welcome the circulation of this information to any contacts you feel would be interested.

We look forward to seeing you there.’

This image suggests what might be possible on the site. Look for 500′ Westbank.

Imgur ilmage of buildings, developers and heights around 1550 Alberni

Imgur image of buildings, developers and heights around 1550 Alberni

More discussion regarding the West End Community Plan and what is now permitted in the “Georgia Corridor”:

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=138107&page=595

2 thoughts on ““Pre-application” open house for 1550 Alberni Street, could be 50 storeys: Monday, June 29, 5 pm

  1. Fantastic news that this will be redeveloped. This is exactly what the West End Plan intended.

    “Could the 43% land value escalation been a windfall profit from the newly-adopted West End Community Plan?”
    What the hell does that even mean? The increase in property tax reflects the increase in value of the land due to the adoption of the West End Plan. An increase in the assessed value isn’t a “windfall profit” to the owner if they intend to continue ownership. Wicklow decided to sell, since the HBU of the land is redevelopment, not an old tired office building.

    • Thanks for the comment. Regarding “windfall profit”: Changing height and density by rezoning is like a license to print money. Several property owners in the West End made millions in capital appreciation by the stroke of a pen. During the public consultations, many aspects of this were never clearly explained to the community. To reinforce the view that the community plan was a great deal for property owners – this article is interesting. Worth reading: “Real Estate Boom Projected For Vancouver’s West End: A new community plan unlocks value—and development potential … West End” (BIV, Margo Harper, June 17, 2014). http://www.bcbusiness.ca/real-estate/real-estate-boom-projected-for-vancouvers-west-end. We’re in a system where property owners have the right to make a profit. But was the community planning process fair for the public? Did some parties get insider treatment? Here’s another article from 2013. “Did the City make secret deals with developers as planning staff engaged residents in West End Community Plan” https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/developer-deals-during-community-plan/. Note, some of the same names crop up.

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