The agenda for the June 9, 2020, City Council meeting contains a Policy Report written by City staff recommending a highly controversial application for a tower at 2538 Birch (1296 West Broadway) be referred once again to a Public Hearing. Many people in Vancouver will know this location as the former site a Denny’s Restaurant.
A previous rezoning for a 16-storey rental tower for this location was passed and enacted by City Council in 2018.
But then a new rezoning application was submitted to increase the height to 28-storeys and a floor space ratio of 10.52 (up from the current 7.07). The height increase would be from 159 ft to 276 ft (that is, from 48 m to 84.25 m) and the unit count would go from 153 rental units to 248 rental units, with 53 units proposed under the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP).
City staff had previously put their policy report on agenda for the March 31st, 2020 meeting of Council, which then voted to refer the motion to the April 14th Council meeting. The reason for the postponement was that this was seen as an extremely controversial item to consider during a pandemic. The staff then put their policy report on the April 14th Council agenda for referral to public hearing, but it was “withdrawn” shortly before the meeting took place.
The local residents’ group, Fairview/South Granville Action Committee (www.28floors.com), with over 600 supporters, has presented its position and strongly advocated to keep the height to 16 storeys:
“… This is a watershed moment – if Jameson’s proposal is allowed to proceed, other 28 floor buildings (or taller) will follow in the future. We support Jameson’s approved application for a 16 floor building and strongly object to its proposal for a 28 floor building. Furthermore, we agree with the City’s moratorium on rezoning along Broadway while the Broadway planning process is underway. This kind of incongruent development is precisely what the moratorium is intended to protect against, until the Plan is completed.”
Some of the original controversy about the project:
Council agenda for June 9, 2020:
Full package of information on the current rezoning application:
MIRHPP passed by previous Council in November of 2017: https://council.vancouver.ca/20171129/pspc20171129ag.htm Report:https://council.vancouver.ca/20171128/documents/rr1appendixc.pdf