(Updated) This is public land. Careful public scrutiny is crucial to ensure what happens here is a good deal for the people of Vancouver. In the past several days, the City of Vancouver posted a notice of City-owned land for sale, at 601 Beach Crescent — beside (east of) the Granville Bridge. The deadline for offers is July 27, 2016.
(We have changed the headline to replace “425-feet” with “500 feet.” The future developer and developer-funded Council majority would likely use the 509-foot foot tower on the west side of the bridge as a precedent for height, and justify it by saying the height should be “symmetrical” for the “gateway” effect. This is how the current regime operates in the City of Vancouver. It is time to ban corporate and union donations from municipal politics. But if Council is using its license to print money using public land, it is important for the public to scrutinize and ensure that it is getting full return on investment by extracting the maximum possible from the land lift for public coffers.)
Here is the notice. CoV notice, 601 Beach Crescent for sale, City property, June 2016
The 1.42-acre site is irregularly-shaped and currently vacant, and its location mirrors the “Vancouver House” site at 1400 Howe Street (Westbank Projects Corp., now under construction).
City of Vancouver planning documents (“Implementation of ‘Vancouver Views’ and Opportunities for Higher Buildings in the Downtown,” 21-Jan-2011) show the potential height at 425 feet, same as what was originally planned at the Vancouver House site (which was later approved at 509 feet).
CityHallWatch believe that greater public scrutiny is needed for valuations done by the City’s real estate department to ensure that full public value is obtained when any public land is sold. The processes and decisions regarding disposition of public land also require greater public attention.
Perhaps City officials should also publicly provide information about the reasons for the timing of this sale, and what is planned with the proceeds. Who is involved in reviewing bids?
Incidentally, as far as we know, the City has not made any public announcement about the results of a 2014 “for-sale” announcement for the Eastern Granville Loop, immediately northeast of the current site for sale (see map above). (The deadline for submissions on the latter was August 15, 2014).
CityHallWatch reported in 2012 that non-profit housing was originally intended for the site currently for sale at 601 Beach Crescent. See “Granville Loops sites once slated for Non-Profit Housing on City owned land” (31-Aug-2012). We are not aware of when City officials actually discussed and decided to change plans for this site.
CityHallWatch reported on the sale of the land nearby. See “Watch this! Public land sale: Eastern Granville Loop, with bridge ramp demolition, new Aquatic Centre, tall tower” (30-Jul-2014). As far as we know, the outcome of this sale of public land has not been reported by the City or covered in the media. Who bought it, who owns it now, and what were the proceeds for the City (i.e., the citizens of Vancouver)?
CityHallWatch also reported “City owns majority of Granville mega-development rezoning site – huge ramifications on process & views” (31-Aug-2012).
Also, we have noted before that, as far as we know, the City has never revoked the “Bridgehead Guidelines (Vancouver, 1997),” which prescribe rules to protect views from bridge access points in Vancouver.