Land assembly strategies risk taking ‘community’ out of “Grandview-Woodland Community Plan”

Colliers letter Oct 2015 seeking land assemblies in Grandview Woodland

Just wanted to inform you that as soon as a Liberal win became apparent, every home in our neighbourhood received a letter from Colliers seeking to assemble land. That’s Broadway through 12th Avenue, from Clark Drive to Victoria — hundreds of properties.”

Resident of Grandview Woodland Plan Area

GW Plan area(Updated: Thank you to readers who commented and e-mailed input, which is reflected in a revised headline, and some changes and clarifications below.) This scanned letter from a local realtor to a Vancouver resident is an example of what’s going on exactly as the community is engaged with the City for a community plan in the Grandview Woodland Plan Area. It arrived in mailboxes by Canada Post on Tuesday, October 20, the day after the federal election.

10th Avenue GW Plan areaOur source confirmed that many people in the neighbourhood received letters addressed specifically to them, and writes, “We regularly receive letters from real estate agents looking for homes to buy, but this is the first land assembly letter to make its way beyond the local arterial roads.”

(Updated:) Our source wishes to emphasize this phenomenon: Essentially the drive to assemble properties comes at the price of dismantling thriving communities for the sake of greed, not increased affordability.

Is this letter yet another symptom of a flawed and manipulated community planning process? (See our links at the bottom about problems with the process so far.) Are realtors are playing an aggressive role in escalating land prices as soon as they get a whiff of potential rezonings to increase density, making housing less affordable, even as the neighbourhood is engaged in discussions with the City for the community plan? Do the real estate industry and urban planners condone this kind of behaviour? (Hint: Chief Planner has spoke against it.) Take this example to a higher magnitude — what are the implications for any community plan process and what can be done, by whom, to mitigate speculative pressure as soon as the whiff of increased density is in the air? Below is an image of the letter, followed by the text further below, and related reading.

Colliers letter Oct 2015 seeking land assemblies in Grandview Woodland

Colliers letter Oct 2015 seeking land assemblies in Grandview Woodland Plan Area

CityHallWatch’s source provides more information:

  • Many residents are frustrated that the City planners assigned to this community planning process won’t take their calls or messages. The draft plan is scheduled to reach City Council in the spring of 2016 and they are deeply concerned there will be limited or no further consultation with the public.
  • Some long time residents are not interested in moving, but may feel forced to do so if the neighbourhood changes to much and it loses its appeal. (That’s the part about the “community” being removed from the community plan.)
  • Ironically, some people who were supportive of “increased density” in the community consultation “Emerging Directions” document have now moved away. (So much for that.) The point being to highlight the observation — which has been seen in other planning processes — that assertive advocates of change have been known to “fly the coop,” leaving the remaining residents to deal with the changes they advocated.
  • During the public consultation on the “Emerging Directions” document for Grandview Woodland Plan Area in the summer of 2013, several neighbours canvassed the area and submitted over 400 signed individual letters in protest of plans to introduce six-storey stacked townhouses, towers, and tall mid-rise commercial buildings. The letters were personally delivered to the City’s Planning office. In addition, neighbours attending the Citizen Assembly workshops clearly expressed their disinterest in placing multifamily buildings that disrespect the general form and character that exists today in this heritage home community.

For more about what appears to be a flawed and manipulated community planning process, see other links below.

PREVIOUS POSTS ON THE GRANDVIEW WOODLAND PLANNING PROCESS:

“Emerging Directions” recommendations (first draft of plan):

**************

TEXT OF LETTER FOLLOWS …

Colliers INTERNATIONAL  October 13, 2015

1XXX 10TH AVE E, VANCOUVER BC V5N XXX

Dear XXXXXX

As you may be aware, the City of Vancouver is currently undertaking a review of planning policy in the Grandview-Woodlands Precinct. The main purpose of the review is to guide land use policy throughout an area that includes your property at 1XXX East 10th Avenue.

An emerging strategy within the plan indicates that your property could potentially be rezoned to support redevelopment for multi-family residential.

If assembled with the neighbouring properties, your property will likely be worth considerably more than its current market value.

The reason we are contacting you now is to determine your interest in meeting with us to discuss the planning changes and how it may impact the value of your property. Our expertise is in assembling and representing land owners in the sale of residential properties undergoing zoning changes. We have successfully assembled and sold numerous sites in areas such as East Vancouver, the Cambie Corridor and the West End.

In the next couple of weeks we will reach out to you by phone. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us by phone or email if you have any questions.

Best Regards,
COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL
Casey Weeks* … *Personal Real Estate Corporation
Meg Cooney Sales Assistant

End of letter

**************

Woodland Drive  GW Plan area 12th Avenue

3 thoughts on “Land assembly strategies risk taking ‘community’ out of “Grandview-Woodland Community Plan”

  1. > Is this letter yet another symptom of a flawed and manipulated community planning process?

    No. Who is manipulating what here? A realtor is asking land owners if they want to band together to achieve maximum value for their land. What do you think is being subverted here?

    > Are realtors are playing an aggressive role in escalating land prices as soon as they get a whiff of potential rezonings to increase density, making housing less affordable, even as the neighbourhood is engaged in discussions with the City for the community plan?

    Land prices are a function of the supply and demand for the end condo units. Thinking otherwise is a misunderstanding of land economics.

    > Was the timing of this letter, with the federal election win of the infrastructure-friendly Liberal Party on October 19, partially motivated by the hope that federal money might be on the way for Mayor Gregor Robertson’s favourite project –a subway along the Broadway corridor?

    Hahaha. No.

    > Are all of these things fanning the flames of greed and speculation?

    Should land owners give away their land at less than market value?

    > Do any codes of conduct in the real estate industry discourage this kind of behaviour?

    Are you seriously asking if the real estate board discourages realtors from basically doing their job?

    > What would happen to land prices and affordability if more realtors competed like this for land assemblies?

    You’re seeing exactly what happens. Again, the value that developers can charge for condos is not driven by land prices.

  2. “Ironically, some people who were supportive of “increased density” in the community consultation “Emerging Directions” document have now moved away. (So much for that.)”

    So much for what? So some people left the neighbourhood. Is there a cause and effect here? I’d say nothing can be deduced from an anecdote about people leaving the ‘hood. Maybe they were sick of how boring Vancouver is? Maybe they cashed out and moved to Osoyoos? Maybe it’s pure coincidence?

    “Was the timing of this letter, with the federal election win of the infrastructure-friendly Liberal Party on October 19, partially motivated by the hope that federal money might be on the way for Mayor Gregor Robertson’s favourite project –a subway along the Broadway corridor?”
    Hmmm. The letters were dated Feb. 13. They arrived Feb 20. If they were mailed after the election, that’s impressive delivery times!

    Look, I am on your side, but by posting nonsense like this you are doing us all a disservice. I want these idiotic developers to stay away and I want our neighbourhood to be an interesting and lovely place to live. But I’m not going to drum up fear by silly speculation and by spewing supposed facts which are baseless. Just because some realtor is getting over zealous in pursuing profit doesn’t mean that she’s got Brian Jackson on speed dial and wordsmithing each line of the GW plan. Yes, the process is corrupt, but this sort of post is as zany as things like 9-11 truthers and Obama birthers….

  3. This story is not surprising. I attended a Citizens Assembly roundtable meeting in the spring. There was only one person at my particular table favouring greater density in Grandview-Woodland. Found out afterwards that he was a VP for Colliers – which, of course, he did not disclose at the discussion.

    It’s interesting to read some of the opinions advocating for greater density in this comments section. City Hall commissioned an independent study on housing affordability by Coriolis Consulting last year. In its summary it states the following:

    “Over the last 5 years, the City has approved rezonings faster than the new capacity is being used.”

    “The City has sufficient capacity in existing zoning and approved community plans to accommodate over 20 years of supply at the recent pace of residential development.”

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