UDP Review

The Urban Design Panel is to provide impartial advice on the physical aspects of development applications. Read below. How did they do for the public interest on this particular application?

Note that this record of the UDP meeting fails to explicitly mention the proposed height. In fact, in all the related documentation, it seems the only place the proposed height is indicated is on  the last page of the 44-page staff report (46.7 m, or 153.2 ft).

http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/udp/2010/Minutes/Jan13.html

Urban Design Panel
Minutes
For: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Present: Members of the Urban Design Panel:

Gerry Eckford
Jane Durante (Excused Item #1 & #4)
David Godin
Bruce Haden (Chair)
Richard Henry
Vladimir Mikler (Excused Item #1)
Maurice Pez
Douglas Watts

REGRETS:

Martin Nielsen
Oliver Lang
Steve McFarlane
Mark Ostry

Recording Secretary:
Lorna Harvey

1. 1569 West 6th Avenue

DE: Rezoning
Use: Construct a new 15 storey residential building with retail at grade.
Zoning: C-3A to CD-1
Application Status: RZ
Architect: Henriquez Partners Architects
Owner: Westbank
Review: First
Delegation: Gregory Henriquez, Henriquez Partners Architects
Jennifer Stamp, Durante Kreuk Landscape Architects
Ian Gillespie, Westbank
Staff: Karen Hoese and Anita Molaro

EVALUATION: SUPPORT (5-0)
[In other words, unanimous support.]

Introduction: Karen Hoese, Rezoning Planner introduced the proposal for the site located in the Burrard Slopes area on West 6th Avenue directly adjacent to the Fir Street off-ramp.  The site is being rezoned from C-3A to CD-1 to allow an increase in the density beyond that permitted under the current zoningA FSR of 3.0 is permitted in C-3A and with a Heritage Bonus Transfer of 10%, the density could be increased up to 3.3 FSR.  The outright height of 30 feet is permitted which can be relaxed by the Development Permit Board.  The Burrard Slopes Guidelines recommend a maximum height of 100 feet.  The proposal is for a 15-storey residential tower with 50 units with a mix of 1 to 3 bedrooms, ranging in size from 524 square feet to 1482 square feet.  Three retail units are proposed at grade with one unit on the east side of the building and two in a stand-alone building on the west side of the site.  An indoor and outdoor amenity space is also proposed at grade. The proposal calls for two levels of underground parking with 60 parking spaces and one Class B loading space accessed through the underground parking of the adjacent site.   A minimum of LEED™ Silver is also proposed.

Dale Morgan, Development Planner, further described the proposal.  The reason the site is being rezoned is because the height and density exceeds what is allowed under the current zoning. The height projects above the recommended maximum of 100 feet.  The Development Permit Board has approved heights beyond 100 feet in the past in C3-A zones.  There will be a fifteen and a twenty storey structure on the site. Mr. Morgan described the context for the area and he also described the guidelines regarding the bridge deck noting that the intent is to preserve views towards the north shore.  By going higher, the distance is increased between the building and the bridge deck.  The guidelines also talk about building separation.  The guidelines suggest that buildings over seventy feet in height have a minimum distance to the property line of forty-one feet and eighty-two feet between buildings. Mr. Morgan then described the shadowing analysis.

Advice from the Panel on this application is sought on the following:

  • The proposed height exceeds the recommended Guideline height of 100feet.  Is the height supportable?
  • Is the Form of Development supportable?
  • Is the adjacency and separation between the buildings supportable?

Ms. Hoese and Mr. Morgan took questions from the Panel.

Applicant’s Introductory Comments: Gregory Henriquez, Architect, further described the proposal, noting that they have increased the distance in the gap between the two buildings and they have opened up the view from the windows on the south facing façade.  He stated that they have worked hard to preserve the relationship between the neighbours and have created a more elegant relationship to the bridge deck and as well have created some open space.

Jennifer Stamp, Landscape Architect, described the landscape plans noting that the entire ground floor is open and is meant to be a visual amenity.  They have tried to buffer the impact of the off ramp and have created a contemplative garden that will be outside the yoga studio.  Green roofs are proposed on some of the lower roofs on the retail.

The applicant team took questions from the Panel.

Panel’s Consensus on Key Aspects Needing Improvement:

  • Consider developing the design strategy to respond to different potential uses and designs (including possible non park uses) for the area under the bridge; and
  • Design development to the public realm to attract pedestrian traffic, including consideration of more retail.

Related Commentary: The Panel supported the proposal and thought it would be a strong addition to a transitional neighbourhood.

The Panel thought it was a well done project and would look good coming off the bridge onto Fir Street.  They thought it was a nicely proportioned building and that the proposal would not have a negative impact on the park.  The Panel supported the height and density and as well the form of development.  Several Panel members noted that they couldn’t rationalize a shorter, fatter building on the site as they felt the height of the proposal fitted into the neighbourhood.  They also didn’t see any reason that the project couldn’t go to 3.7 FSR. The Panel didn’t have any concerns with the adjacency to the building next door and thought enough attention had been paid to views from the suites to the north shore.  The Panel also supported the shared driveway with the adjacent building so that there wasn’t another curve cut in the sidewalk.

The Panel thought the proposal had a good response to the off-ramp with several Panel members suggesting the area under the bridge could be developed as it would help the relationship between that area and the site.   The Panel supported the landscape plans however there were some concerns with the viability of the retail studios given the distance from the pedestrian linkage and encouraged the applicant team find a way to engage the pedestrians.

Applicant’s Response: Mr. Henriquez stated that he agreed with the Panel’s comments.

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