Laneway at 1477 West Broadway tower site sold for $3,795,000. CoV used an appraisal from another property with a Floor Space Ratio of 3 to inform sale price

Consolidated property at 1477 West Broadway includes a former CoV laneway

The City of Vancouver finally released the sale price and appraisal for a laneway that now forms an integral part of the tower site at 1477 West Broadway. The purchase price for the laneway was listed as $3,795,000 in the sales document and it was priced on the assumption that the land has a Floor Space Ratio of 3.0. The City did not commission a separate appraisal for the laneway, but rather staff used an appraisal for the properties at 1431 and 1441 West Broadway in a hypothetical redevelopment scenario under existing C-3A zoning (3.0 FSR). The rezoning application (now approved) for 1477 West Broadway has a Floor Space Ratio of 12.30. Did City staff knowingly end up selling public land for pennies on the dollar?

The records were released on May 19, 2022 in response to a FOI submitted on November 17, 2021. The PDF below includes the appraisal and the sales document:

Avid blogger Stanley Q. Woodvine wrote an article about blueprints for a big tower here that he discovered in a dumpster back in mid-2019. It appears that some notion of a possible tower development has been in the works since then:

Homeless in Vancouver: Dumpster-dived blueprints show Granville subway station in new West Broadway tower (Georgia Straight, by Stanley Q. Woodvine, June 30th, 2019)

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Fact check: Changes in final version of Broadway Plan versus last draft in March, and comparisons with Mount Pleasant Community Plan (big differences)

Volunteers meeting to work on the implementation of the Mount Pleasant Community Plan

We received the following analysis regarding the Broadway Plan from a Mount Pleasant resident. We have bolded and slighted clarified a few spots. A key point is that what Vancouver’s chief planner is telling the public regarding this area does not match the reality of what is being proposed in the Broadway Plan.

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At a GWAC community meeting with Manager of Planning Ms. Theresa O’Donnell regarding the Broadway Plan, I asked her about the Mount Pleasant Community Plan. Her answer was there would not be many changes in Mount Pleasant through the Broadway Plan.

By way of background, I was on the CLG (Community Liaison Group), MPIC (Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee) and attended the City-sponsored community meetings in the creation of the Mount Pleasant Community Plan.

To understand what was being proposed with the Broadway Plan, I went through the Shape Your City Boards as presented to the public for The Broadway Plan from pages 31 to 38 covering Mount Pleasant.  Following is a link to download a pdf showing those boards:   https://shapeyourcity.ca/14107/widgets/58582/documents/76101   (30 MB)

In contrast to the statement by Ms. O’Donnell, I found that there were major changes in heights and density compared to the Mount Pleasant Plans.  Following are the links to the Mount Pleasant Plan and the Mount Pleasant Community Plan Implementation Plan:

https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/MP-community-plan.pdf

https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/mount-pleasant-community-plan-implementation-package.pdf

Below I’ve listed the changes.  The page numbers referred to in the list are the pages on the Shape Your City Boards for Mount Pleasant.

I’ve shown the maximum heights and densities in the proposed Broadway Plan, and these are higher than what is in the Mount Pleasant Plan:

Kingsgate Mall is site-specific, and the rest (a to m) are area changes.

  • Kingsgate Mall

“MCEA” on page 35 of the Broadway Plan boards. Height: 20 to 30 storeys with 9.0-10.5 FSR

BUT The Mount Pleasant Plan on page 23 shows Kingsgate Mall as 17, 13 and 9 storey buildings

https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/mount-pleasant-community-plan-implementation-package.pdf

Area Changes (a to m) under the proposed Broadway Plan:

  1. North side Great Northern Way at Glen Dr Page 38 MCDF Height 25–35 storeys Density: 8.0–10.0 FSR
  2. North and West sides Broadway from Yukon to Quebec Page 33 MBSB Height: Up to 25-30 storeys (or up to the underside of Queen Elizabeth View sections 3.2.3-3.2.4 if more restrictive). Density: 9.0-10.0 FSR
  3. between Scotia and Brunswick on the north side of Broadway across from the Kingsgate Mall Page 35 MCEA    Height:  Up to 20-30 storeys Density: 9.0-10.5 FSR (THE CHANGE: The Mount Pleasant Plan Page 23 of 164 https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/mount-pleasant-community-plan-implementation-package.pdf   shows the heights of 6 storeys on the north side of Broadway across from Kingsgate mall and between Scotia and Brunswick.)
  4. North and south side of East 11th between Main and Sophia Page 35 MCEB  Height: Up to 20-25 storeys Density: 7.5-8.5 FSR
  5. East and West side of Main Street from E 7th to E 2nd Page 36 MCEG  Height:  Up to 20-25 storeys Density: 8.0-8.5 FSR
  6. within the area from Scotia to Glen and East 10th to Great Northern Way Page 36 MNAA and Page 37 MNAB    Height: 15-20 storeys Density: 5.5-6.5 FSR
  7. L shaped area, North and South side of W 10th from Yukon to Quebec and from W 10th to W 13th and Ontario to west lane Main Page 34 MSAA   Height: 15-20 storeys Density: 5.5-6.5
  8. East and West sides of Fraser Street from E 15 to Broadway Page 34  MRTC Height: 15-18 storeys Density: 5.5 FSR

There is a Vancouver View Study View corridor down Fraser and it is mentioned in the Riley Park/South Cambie Community Vision at 32.10 Preserve Views on page 73.  This fact is not mentioned in the May 18, 2022 Council Report.

  1. East lane of Main to Scotia and from East 2nd to East 7th Page 36 MCEH  Height: 15-18 storeys Density: 5.5 FSR —– CURRENTY allows 6 storeys AND now changed in the May 18 2022 Council report to 20 storeys and 7.0 FSR
  2. North side of East 10th between Windsor and Clark Page 34 MRTB Height: 15-18 storeys Density: 5.5 FSR
  3. Northwest corner of Broadway at Clark Page 34 MNAC Height: 15-18 storeys Density: 5.5 FSR
  4. Clark Drive at Great Northern Way Page 38 MCDH 120 – 150 ft Density: 5.0 – 6.0 FSR

m.   North and south west corners of East 12th and Clark Page 34  MRTD  Height: 12-15 storeys Density: 4.5 FSR

Renderings of Broadway Plan build out for Kitsilano and Fairview

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The Broadway Plan will be in front out City Council today (May 25th). Council will continue the meeting by hearing from speaker number 67 out of a total of 202 speakers. (Update: the meeting will resume again on Thursday, May 26th, 3pm to 10pm, with a break from 5pm to 6pm).

To take a look at the proposed changes put forward by staff in this plan, we’ve included renderings of a possible build out scenario. The included renderings are of Kitsilano and Fairview (in previous posts we’ve included other parts of the Broadway Plan area). The shadows are at 10am on March 20th (spring equinox). The speakers list for this Council Committee meeting is now closed. However, it’s still possible to send comments to Council through several channels, including sending a comment with the link on the meeting agenda page.

To support public dialogue, we welcome interested parties (media, Vancouver residents, and neighbourhood associations, in particular) to use the independently generated renderings 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.

A look at a massing model of a Broadway Plan build out. Council meeting resumes on Wednesday, May 25th

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The Broadway Plan debate resumes at City Council on Wednesday, May 25th at 3pm (Update: the meeting will resume again on Thursday, May 26th, 3pm to 10pm). Council will continue with speaker #67, out of a total of 202 speakers. If any speaker missed their turn, they’ll be able to speak at the end after all registered speakers have been called. In anticipation of the resumption of the Council Committee meeting, we’ve included additional renderings of a massing model that shows a build out of the Broadway Plan. Several of the buildings in this series have been dressed up with a little bit of building façade articulation with the addition of windows. The overall massing hasn’t changed in the massing model. The shadows are at 10am on March 20th (spring equinox). In a previous post, we included windows on some of the renderings related to the rental building sites that were examined (the article looked at a few of the rental buildings that might be redeveloped under the proposed plan).

The Broadway Plan item is being considered in the Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities that began on May 18, 2022. As this is a committee meeting, anyone who wished to speak to Council was required to be sign up by 8:30am on May 18th; the speakers list is now closed. However, it’s still possible to send comments to Council through several channels, including sending a comment with the link on the meeting agenda page.

To support public dialogue, we welcome interested parties (media, Vancouver residents, and neighbourhood associations, in particular) to use the independently generated renderings 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.

Heather Lands Public Hearing May 24, 2022. What will become of the Fairmont Building?


The May 24th Public Hearing for the Heather Lands may seal the fate of the Fairmont Building.

Heather Lands Massing Model in Staff Policy Report (May 24, 2022 Public Hearing)

Immediately after the Victoria Day long weekend, Vancouver City Council will consider the rezoning of the Heather Lands on Tuesday, May 24th (6pm start). This is a large 21-acres site. A total of 400 units of market rental housing, 1670 strata units (leasehold) and 540 units of social housing are proposed. The rezoning application requests a total area of 234,219 sq. m or 2,521,107 sq. ft. and it would include buildings up to 28-storeys in height.

As part of this rezoning package, City staff are recommending the removal or demolition of the Fairmont building. The Heather Lands are located north of 37th Avenue, south of 33rd, and bound by lanes behind Willow and Ash Streets. We’ve included further analysis of this rezoning application in a previous post. The ShapeYourCity portal contains a page dedicated to the Heather Lands. Continue reading

In 2018 agreement with TransLink, City of Vancouver committed to maintain the Mount Pleasant Community Plan

Vancouver City Council continues to hear speakers on the Broadway Plan. One controversial factor was the last minute revelation that staff are recommending that Council revoke several community plans. See our post “If approved, the Broadway Plan kills the Mount Pleasant Community Plan, plus other plans/policies for Fairview and Kitsilano (May 18 Council agenda)”

But an agreement between City of Vancouver and TransLink has come to light entitled Supportive Policies Agreement – Millennium Line Broadway Extension Project, dated June 20, 2018. If it is still in place, the City of Vancouver is still committed to keep the Mount Pleasant Community Plan in place.

Link – https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/broadway-subway-supportive-policies-agreement-june-27-2018.pdf

Get a copy while it is still online!

Excerpt:

  1. CONTINUATION OF EXISTING PLANS AND INITIATIVES

3.1 City Plans and Initiatives Approved or Underway

The City has previously completed or initiated a significant amount of work in preparation for the Project and toward the achievement of the objectives and principles described in Article 2. For the continuation of that work, the City hereby commits to maintain in place and/or follow through with the implementation of the following:

(a) the approved Housing Vancouver Strategy (2017) to significantly increase housing supply across the City and to improve housing affordability over the next 10 years by shifting the supply towards the ‘right supply’ including rental, social, and supportive housing, while also providing a greater diversity of forms in the City’s ground-oriented housing stock;

(b) various approved planning programs over the past decade that have sought to intensify land uses supportive of rapid transit including the False Creek Flats (2017), Mount Pleasant Industrial Changes (2016-2017), Mount Pleasant Community Plan (2010), and the Metro Core Jobs and Economy Land Use Plan (2007);

Massing models

Rezoning application illustration for the rezoning at 158-180 West 2nd Avenue

Massing models are commonly used in city planning. There’s currently a rezoning application at 156-180 West 2nd Avenue that shows three building forms to represent the different options that could be possible under the requested height and density. We’ve included a photo of the sign (above) to show the forms of development that are being considered.

City staff used a computer generated massing model in a report used at a Public Hearing on January 21, 2021 for item #1 Mount Pleasant I-1 Amendment and New I-1C District Schedule. We requested this computer massing model via FOI in order to examine it from other locations in 3D; however, the City refused to release it.

Physical massing models are commonly submitted to Council and to the Urban Design Panel. We’ve included a few photos of a massing model for the rezoning at 1395 West Broadway that was on display at City Hall in the slideshow below.

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A look at the temporary closure of Woodland Drive and East 2nd Avenue on a cycling route

Construction is progressing slowly on a stretch of Woodland Drive south of East 2nd Avenue. It will likely take another month to complete the roadwork. We’ve included several photos for the record. Cyclists and pedestrians can walk around this closed stretch of road on the sidewalks on either side. Will this project provide much-needed improvements to this designated bikeway on Woodland, or could the money spent on this project have been allocated to other cycling improvements on the Eastside? The stretch of road between 2nd and 3rd had already been previously closed to vehicular traffic; this project represents further work in the area.

A few years ago, there were also closures on Woodland Drive at 3rd Avenue, but this was as a result of the upgrades to the Fortis natural gas line.

Council and Park Board Recap May 16-19: Broadway Plan, Trout Lake Masterplan, EV Charging at Gas Stations

Here’s a quick recap of a busy week in Council and Park Board. On Monday, May 16th, Vancouver Park Board debated and passed the Masterplan for John Hendry Park (Trout Lake). Amendments to the John Hendry Park Renewal Plan included instructions to find a place for community garden plots and to prioritize water quality improvements for safe swimming. The item to allow for alcohol consumption in select parks for a second year in a row passed (June 3 – Oct 16, 2022). The Park Board also met on May 17th. A resolution was passed to request that Council extend Solar Access to Parks in the Broadway Plan.

On Tuesday, May 17th, Vancouver City Council referred a total of 14 policy reports to a future Public Hearing. A majority on Council voted to refer the controversial social housing tower in Kitsilano:
3. CD-1 Rezoning: 2086-2098 West 7th Avenue, and 2091 West 8th Avenue

A similar BC Housing proposal at Knight and King Edward Village was referred:
13. CD-1 Rezoning: 1406-1410 East King Edward Avenue

Several larger rezoning applications were also sent to Public Hearing, including these two:
10. CD 1 Rezoning: 450-496 Prior Street, 550 Malkin Avenue and 1002 Station Street
12. CD-1 Text Amendment: 500-650 West 57th Avenue (Pearson Dogwood)

The Public Hearing on May 17th included the approval of a 40-storey tower at 1668-1684 Alberni Street (117.3m, 10.81 FSR, with the tower intruding into a view cone).

The Committee Meeting on Wednesday, May 18th started at 9:30am and went all the way to 10pm (with breaks) and was dedicated to the Broadway Plan. 66 out of 202 speakers were heard. The Committee meeting will reconvene at 3pm on May 25th to continue to hear from speakers. The Broadway Plan covers 500 city blocks. There’s a potential for over 350 towers. The report of length was 50,000 words (177 pages), the Appendix was 80,000 words (493 pages); these documents were released on May 10, 2022. Thus, the City only allowed for five business days for public review before the beginning of the Broadway Plan debate.

The second public hearing of the week, on Thursday, May 19th, included the approval of an item that would encourage the installation of EV Chargers at gas stations. A $10,000 fee per annum would be charged to gas stations that do not comply with the yet to be determined minimum number of installed EV charging stations.

For future reference, we’ve reproduced the meeting agendas below: Continue reading

Why the Broadway Plan now? And Why all the Fuss about our Model? (City Conversation #54: Why is the 500-page Broadway Plan being rushed through after mere days of review? And why has our 3D model become its litmus test?)

(City Conversation #54 was first published 19-May-2022)
(For a list of City Conversations by Brian Palmquist on CityHallWatch, please visit this page.)

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May 18, 2022—My remarks to City Council at the meeting to consider the Broadway Plan.

The Broadway Plan’s contemplated towers, looking east from its western border near Arbutus—ours is the only accurate model available—3D model images by Stephen Bohus, BLA

As we have rushed up to this meeting, mere days after the final Broadway Plan was finally shared by city staff, all 493 pages of it, I found myself asking, “Why are we getting so much information, so late? What’s the rush?”

I know that the easy answer to “What’s the rush?”  is that we have a housing affordability crisis. We get that. What we don’t get is “Why has it taken so long to get information that is voluminous, yet disingenuous?”

Why is it that literally for years, ordinary citizens like me have had to collect the information that underlines our increasing concerns about this Plan? Why have we had to model the Broadway Plan instead of city staff? Perhaps because we have discovered that the Broadway Plan’s proposed density can be achieved without much high-rise at all and feel it important to illustrate what the high-rise option might really look like. Why is it that city staff have declined to provide you, Council, with the bigger picture development “pipeline” that should be there to explain the Plan? 

Unable to get useful information from city staff, we have done the heavy lifting, the analysis that city staff have declined to do, or if they have done it, to share it.

Members of the Fairview/ South Granville Action Committee met recently via zoom with several but not all members of Council. This committee includes amongst its members some very experienced, credentialed environmental scientists and engineers, who assembled literally dozens of peer-reviewed studies conclusively demonstrating the climate and sustainability disaster that is concrete high-rise. Some of these studies were even prepared by city staff, yet have not been re-tabled as part of the Broadway Plan’s process, possibly because they run counter to the “high-rise for all” focus of the Plan.

More recently, staff tabled a Housing Progress Report with you, purporting to show the good work you and they were doing, especially for renters. But there is no objective data available behind the bar charts in that report. Again, private citizens have stepped up.

Frustrated by staff’s unwillingness to provide data on the true state of housing, especially where approved by spot rezonings, of which more than 380 have been initiated during this Council’s term, we dug deeper. And “dug” is the operant word.

First we went to more than 380 individual Shape Your City websites, one for each spot rezoning, in order to find the most basic data: what was proposed, how many of what type of housing; and what was the status of each rezoning. There is no centralized assembly of that basic data that is accessible to and usable by citizens in their neighbourhoods. We had to go separately to a completely different building permit database in order to find out which projects have moved forward and which are languishing as derelict homes or vacant sites—and there are many.

Perhaps some of our housing affordability crisis might be explained by what we found:

  • Of the more than 380 spot rezonings commenced during this Council’s term, only half have been approved so far—the balance are grinding their way through city staff—they have not reached the public hearing stage that civic administrations advise are delaying housing delivery;
  • Of the half that have been approved, only half of those have actually applied for building permission. The average time from an approved spot rezoning to getting its first phased permit, usually to dig a hole in the ground, is two years. Perhaps an accelerated approval process at city hall might make that easier?
  • Many of the half of spot rezonings that have not received initial building permits have nonetheless received demolition permits to clear away the existing housing that will someday be replaced—meanwhile many tenants have been evicted, much housing has been destroyed, many sites have become vacant, derelict lots. Some have been flipped, resold at a premium based on the promise of higher density under the Broadway Plan, with the premium costs to be passed on to the eventual occupants as higher sale prices or rents.
  • Of the half of the spot rezonings initiated during this council’s term that have received building permission, only five have been completed, representing 684 homes, of which 17% are rental, 83% are strata. Other completed projects were started by previous Councils.
  • This is trickle-down economics at its worst and it leads to the range of anguished, polarized debate that you will hear over the next while.

Our research on more than 380 spot rezoning city websites shows that there are more than 60,000 spot rezoned homes that have been approved but not completed, more than half of which are rental—that’s twice the staff’s projection for the entire buildout of the Broadway Plan. There are another more than 60,000 homes contemplated but not yet applied for, including the Broadway Plan, the Jericho Lands, Skeena Terrace and many others. So if the Plan is approved, how long will it be before any of this has any impact on the immediate affordability crisis—local history suggests a very long time, several years, in fact, since the Broadway Plan assumes no changes to the business as usual glacial pace of staff review.

As we have published this data in various posts and most recently, our 3D model of what the Broadway Pan contemplates, city staff have occasionally challenged our data in social media. Each time we become aware of such a challenge or question, we have responded, “Let’s sit down and compare your data to ours.” Each time when we reach that moment and make that suggestion, we are greeted with silence. That’s why our 3D model is used by the media—there is no other, even when they ask the city for it.

Council, you may have unanimous staff support for this Broadway Plan, but you most assuredly do not have anything close to citizen support. Please send this flawed Plan back to staff with suitable instructions, so that when the Broadway Plan comes back, it comes back with today’s opponents as tomorrow’s supporters, as used to be the case in this city.  

Thank you.

Call to Action

The speakers list for the Broadway Plan now exceeds 200, is in fact closed to further speakers. Council will resume hearing speakers on May 25 from 3pm. To listen to those presentations, click here.

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