The City of Vancouver is holding a Virtual Open House regarding a rezoning proposal for a 39-storey tower and podium at 1477 West Broadway. It runs from November 15th to December 5th, 2021. Comments can be submitted via the ShapeYourCity.ca web portal.
The proposed 39-storey tower’s total height is 125 m (or 415 ft). The podium component would include offices as well as retail at grade and on the second floor (the podium alone has a very large volumetric displacement given the size of the site). The total FSR proposed is 12.16 (29,240 sq. m or 314,732 sq. ft. floor area). The residential component would have 223 rental units with 20% at the City’s below market rate designation. A total of 285 parking spaces is proposed for the site. An entrance to the future South Granville Station would be located on the northeast corner of West Broadway and Granville. The applicant is PCI Developments while the architect is MCM (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership).
The site already has an approved Development Permit for a 5-storey, mixed use office building under the current C-3A zoning (22.25m or 73 ft., FSR 3.0). The underground parking levels are already under construction. The minutes of the Development Permit Board on December 9, 2019 has more details about this approved DP for a 5-storey office building with 6-storeys of underground parking.
Over the last couple of years, the former RBC building at Granville and Broadway was demolished and there was a closure (and presumably, a sale, unreported publicly) of the City-owned laneway that used to run across the site. (The existing Development Permit p4 says “Arrangements for the purchase of the lane are to be made between the City of Vancouver and the Developer” but we have not seen any further documentation.) The site was excavated, construction started on an underground station, and a number of levels of underground parking have been constructed.
In a previous post we noted that a report dated June 28, 2021 was going to Council on July 21, 2021 that recommended an exception to the Broadway Plan rezoning freeze (this was later adopted by Council).
The key point of the report is chief planner’s Theresa O’Donnell’s recommendation (paraphrased): THAT Council instructs her to consider a rezoning application by PCI Developments LP on behalf of 1489 West Broadway Nominee Corp., the registered owner of the land located at 1477 West Broadway … within the Broadway Plan study area, which proposes a mixed-use office, retail and rental housing building at a height and density above what is permitted in the C-3A District Schedule and associated Guidelines, as an exception to the Broadway Plan Interim Rezoning Policy.
“Issues Report: Consideration of Rezoning Proposal at 1477 West Broadway (South Granville Station)” – authored by chief planner Theresa O’Donnell with Kevin McNaney as the contact. Download the 11-page PDF here.
It might be worth noting that some of the drawings in the applicant’s submission are dated “23 Jul 2021” (just two days after the Council meeting) that was recorded to have been received by the City on August 31, 2021 and was made public at the beginning of September (Vancouver Sun). So it looks like the City and the applicant were working as a team to get the pieces in place for this application and not being entirely forthright with our elected officials and the public. Some supply-side activists mobilize their followers to lobby City Council to support every developer application that includes rental housing, ignoring or downplaying many other crucial aspects of urban planning. Developers have deep pockets to hire fixers and PR firms to push processes in their favour. Yes, affordable rental housing is definitely needed in Vancouver, but the public has the right to expect integrity in our municipal government and its processes, and ultimately its up to our elected officials to enforce that.
Meanwhile, the Fairview / South Granville Action Committee has a long list of issues with this rezoning.
It’s worth noting that the shadows of this tower would reach the future Burrard Slopes Park (the publicly-funded extension of the present public park at 6th and Fir; there’s a slide showing 9:28am on November 17, 2021). The shadows would extend to the north side of False Creek (in November) as well as onto Granville Island (see our previous shadow analysis post).
While there a rezoning ban was officially imposed on tower applications during the Broadway Plan public consultation process, developers are exploiting loopholes, and evidence shows that the City of Vancouver is actively encouraging and accepting applications. A number of blockbuster towers are already working their way through City Hall. One aspect of towers is their impacts on shadows, especially when towers are being proposed at a high point over a declining slope to the north, as we see in the case of the Fairview Slopes, which are home to thousands of residents and businesses. Is access to the sky important? Are shadow impacts important? Some may argue saying no, but we say yes, and that the bigger the building, the more complete our local government should be in publishing accurate shadow analyses. So the next step is to look at how the City actually deals with shadow analysis in preparing for public input and the final decision by our elected officials.
Previous generations of city planners knew the importance of solar access on the Fairview Slopes and Burrard Slopes, and their awareness of the issues of placing tall buildings on the higher ground above a north-facing slope resulted in the streetscape you see today along Broadway. However, the immediately previous and current chief planner are from outside of Canada, with very short experience in this Vancouver and at this northern latitude, and may not have had a real appreciation of the long-respected practices in Vancouver.
What we would like to emphasize is the serious nature of setting precedents. The issue here is not just about one tall tower at Granville and West Broadway. It’s about the possibility of having many towers of similar heights all along Broadway and on the adjacent streets. Through the cumulative effects of multiple decisions at City Hall, there is a large potential for blocking out a significant amount of solar access for areas north of Broadway for generations to come.
To support public dialogue, we welcome interested parties (media, Vancouver residents, and neighbourhood associations, in particular) to use the images presented, with “Credit for renderings to Stephen Bohus, BLA.” We do appreciate a concise e-mail if you do (citizenYVR@gmail.com). For more detail on how the renderings were created, please see one of our previous posts.
Slideshow (above): The shadow diagrams were rendered at the stated times on the slides for select dates. Photos of the rezoning information signs are also included in the slides, a rendering from the applicant as well as photos of the area and of the ongoing construction at the site.
1477 W Broadway rezoning application (City of Vancouver page for rezoning)
1395 W Broadway rezoning application (tower proposed Hemlock, site open for public comments)
Shoulder season and shadows: A look at shadow impacts from three current tower proposals on West Broadway (CityHallWatch, November 2, 2021)
Shadow analysis of proposed towers on Fairview Slopes. 1395 West Broadway tower open house runs until November 7th (October 26, 2021, CityHallWatch)
Dan Fumano: Broadway’s tallest tower pitched through ‘exceptional’ process (Vancouver Sun, Sep 03, 2021)
DPB minutes:https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/dpbminutes12092019.pdf (1465-1489 West Broadway) and more details on the 5-storey office tower please open the Meetings and 2019 tabs on this page: Development Permit Board (scroll down to December 9, 2019)