Letter: Where Is The Missing Land Title For Marine Gardens? (And All That is Wrong with City Planning)

Affordable Housing at Marine GardensReproduced below is a letter by Jillian Skeet.

The land title that would show the City of Vancouver’s acquisition of the property on which Marine Gardens is located, is missing from the BC Land Title Registry.  This is significant given that residents have been told that the land was originally donated to the City as a park (Delta View Park) with the stipulation that the trees never be cut.  The City plans to demolish the townhouse community, and all its trees, to erect more skyscrapers.

Six years ago, I attended the first of many Open Houses and Public Consultations over the 34 story Marine Gateway project currently being built across from Marine Gardens at Cambie and Marine Drive.

Like most who attended, I was not opposed to development in Marpole, but I wanted it to enhance the best features of our neighbourhood as one of the “more” affordable, family-oriented areas of the city.  Most of us felt that the 34 story Marine Gateway project was too tall and completely out of scale with our neighbourhood.

At meeting after meeting, planners trotted out the same project assuring us that we had been heard and that the skyscrapers had been moved back a few centimetres to reduce the shadowing on the local school playground.

It was a textbook example of all that is wrong with the planning and public consultation process under Vision Vancouver.  It was a waste of time with our comments ignored while Vision boasted about its unprecedented level of (meaningless) consultation.

It was at one of these first Open Houses that the City brought a model of my neighbourhood with clear plastic skyscrapers overlaying many of the existing structures – including my townhouse community-  Marine Gardens.

I advised City planners at the time that I had been told that Marine Gardens was built on land that was donated to the City as a park and that the trees were never to be cut.  The development they were proposing would necessitate the complete removal of virtually every tree on the site.

I also advised them that Marine Gardens became a showcase for the United Nations Habitat for Humanity Conference, held in Vancouver in the mid-1970s, and was built as a model community.  It became the prototype for many of the co-ops that followed.

I went down to the Vancouver Archives and amongst the sketchy records, was able to verify that Marine Gardens had indeed once been “Delta View Park,” and that in the early 1970s, City Council had stipulated that it must be used for “garden apartments.” Continue reading

Urban Design mistakes and shortcomings

Marpole Safeway frontage on Granville Street
It’s worth reflecting on some of the Urban Design mistakes made in Vancouver over the recent years. Perhaps the same mistakes won’t be made over and over again. Pictured above is the recently completed Safeway on Granville and West 70th Avenue. This is a very bleak and stark building face. We can do better.

The Telus Garden Telus Garden overhangoffice building on West Georgia has two boxes overhanging the streets on either side (Richards and Seymour). The street end views along both of these streets are significantly impacted.

This intervention into air space above downtown streets is criticized by a past planning director in the following letter: “Is anyone else concerned?” message circulating from Ray Spaxman, esteemed former Director of Planning, Vancouver.

Another major Urban Design blunder was to approve a new tower and podium at 1305 Burrard Street,  at the site of the former Commercial Electronics store. The marketing for the site blacked out the context. Amacon’s 17-storey tower and 8-storey “podium” is surrounded by highrises. There’s only a small gap between the tower to the west and the “podium”:

Tower separation at 1305 Burrard

Several photos of these three examples are included below: Continue reading

Another highrise is being reclad in Downtown Vancouver. More buildings to undergo extensive renovations soon?

Reclad building near False CreekA highrise at 1625 Hornby is being reclad. This highrise is located on the seaside bike route along Seabreeze Walk it and was built in 1987. It is otherwise known as the “Seawalk North” building and it contains 66 strata units and a few shops and services.

It’s a mere block away from the tower we featured in our previous post: Tower at 907 Beach Avenue is being reclad. Only 20 years old. Sign of the times? An open question is will other highrises in Downtown Vancouver of a similar vintage require extensive building envelope renovations in the near future? As we previously noted, the repairs can average around $50,000 per standard sized unit, depending on the nature of the repairs that are needed.

Several photos of the building and area are included in the following slideshow; the Seawalk North building can also be seen from the Burrard Bridge.

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Public Hearing June 18th – 1396 Richards, 3030 Broadway, 807 Powell and more

Five items are up for review at a Public Hearing scheduled at City Hall on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 starting at 6pm. The full agenda of the meeting and links to staff reports can be found on the city’s website.

The final item on the agenda is a rezoning for a 42-storey tower at 1396 Richards Street. This tower is on the same block as the 43-storey tower recently approved at 1300-1320 Richards Street on May 15th, 2013 by a 10-1 vote. The proposal at 1396 Richards has a density of 8.6 FSR. The same density for a residential development [can] be achieved at a substantially lower height. For further details, please refer to our earlier article the rest of 1300 block Richards (east) goes to Public Hearing June 18.

The proposed rezoning of 3030 East Broadway from Industrial (I-2) to CD-1 has been in the pipeline for a few years. The original proposal was submitted on December 16, 2010. B+H Bunting Coady Architects seeks to have approval for 5 buildings to be used as office space with a total area of 962,287 sq. ft or 89,399 m2 (FSR of 3.0).

3030 Broadway site (industrial zoning) 3030 Broadway rezoning sign

Continue reading

Public Hearing May 15th – 3002 West Broadway, 1300 Richards, 1107 Seymour

3002-3036 West BroadwayA Public Hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday May 15th, starting at 6pm at City Hall.

The first item on the agenda is a 5-storey building on the Toybox store half block site at 3002-3036 West Broadway. The proposal requests a 60.7′ (18.5m) high building with a FSR of 3.37, the site is currently zoned as C-2C. A total of 83 market rental units are requested under the ‘Son-of-STIR’ Rental 100 policy. The ground floor would have commercial uses. Further information on the project can be found on the city’s website. The Open House held last fall was well attended and it’s expected that Kitsilano residents will turn up in good numbers to voice their opinions about this rezoning.

1300-1320 Richards StreetA 43-storey tower is proposed for 1300-13200 Richards Street that is being reviewed as the second item at the Public Hearing. This project submitted by Dialog on behalf of Wall Financial Corporation would have an overall density of 12.32 FSR, contain 258 units, 258 parking spaces and have retail uses at grade. With a total height of 415′ (126.5m) there will be a impact on public views of the North Shore. The height is just below the maximum allowed under the viewcone from QE Park. Current Downtown District zoning allows for maximum height of 300′ and a density of 3.0FSR. The proposed building is 13-17 storeys taller than the existing tall buildings near the site. Further information on this proposal is available on the city’s website. There is another rezoning application on the same block for a 42-storey tower by Onni at 1396 Richards Street with a floor space ratio of 8.6.

The third and final item at the Public Hearing is a rezoning for a 15-storey building at 1107 Seymour Street. A 165′ (50.3m) building would have a FSR of 9.22, and increase from the 5.0 FSR currently allowed. A total of 81 social housing units are proposed on a 9,000 sq ft (836 sqm) site. Further information is available on the planning department rezoning centre website here. Continue reading

Photos and observations of Feb 21st Open House for Westbank’s 52-storey tower proposal

Brent Toderian pictured 'getting into the model'
An Open House was held on February 21st to show a proposal that includes a 52-storey tower at the north end of the Granville bridge. The photographs here are included as a record of the event. For a more detailed analysis and a list of serious policy concerns, please see our previous article on the proposal at 1412-1460 Howe Street. The city’s website contains a subset of the materials shown at the event and a questionnaire.

Aside from neighbouring residents, members the development industry were also out in full force. Attendees included architects, former planners, development consultants and lobbyists. There were complaints by neighbours that the location was inconvenient for them, and that it was held too early (a previous Open House was held April 4, 2013 at 1379 Howe 5-8pm).

East Tower Rendering Granville Bridge

One of the noticeable details was the way that other tall buildings that do not even exist as rezoning applications were shown in both the model and on renderings. For example, a tower only a few storeys lower than the proposal was shown in a symmetrical site east of the Granville Bridge (above), on publicly-owned land. Continue reading

Open House for 42-storey tower at 1396 Richards on Oct 25th

An Open House has been scheduled to gather public feedback on a proposal to build a 42-storey tower and a 9-storey building at 1396 Richards and Pacific. The event will be held on Thursday, October 25th, between 5-8pm in a drop-in format at 181 Roundhouse Mews (Community Centre at Davie & Pacific).
The proposed development would contain 269 residential units, of which 129 units are rentals that are separately contained in the lower 9-storey building. While the development has a density of 8.6 FSR, the 42-storey tower component has a small floorplate with only 3 or 4 units per level. Rearranging the massing of the building in a lower form could lessen the impact on views of the 410 ft (125m) tower component. There are 15 units of rental per floor; the market rentals include a number of decently sized units. The design also contains a 37 space daycare at grade along with commercial uses at ground level. Further details are on the city’s website. The applicant is Onni Group, and it appears the architect is DialogContinue reading