The Community Outreach Event and an update on the new Rize Proposal
First of all, we would like to give a big thanks to everyone who participated in the Community Outreach event organized by RAMP on July 23, 2013. It was a great turnout of residents and stakeholders in the community and proved to be a valuable opportunity to share our concerns.
We’ve provided a summary of a number of the key changes and outstanding issues with the new proposal from Rize Alliance. On August 7th the City of Vancouver cancelled the Development Permit Board review of the Rize proposal. It was originally scheduled for September 23, 2013, but now will be postponed to a later date still to be set by the City.
In the original notification letter from the City of Vancouver a deadline was set for public comments to be considered for the staff report at 4:30pm on Friday, August 9th. The City may choose to extend the deadline; however, there has been no official announcement about an extension for written comments. Therefore we encourage residents and other affected stakeholders to submit comments before the close of the August 9th deadline. The comments about the Rize can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
What’s RAMP’s position?
RAMP believes that the changes made in the new Rize design are so extensive that the entire project must go back to City Council for a new Public Hearing.
The conditions and specifications for the rezoning are summarized below. The following is a table comparing the specification requested at the Rize rezoning at Public Hearing, the new Rize proposal, and the current C-3A zoning and guidelines:
Current zoning C-3A
|Number of Parking stalls||320
|Varies (minimum ~134)|
|Tower height (from base 40.64m)||65.51m
|Maximum height above sea level||106.15 m||106.68 m||~62m|
|Total floor area||30,915.93 m2||31,905.43 m2||Varies (3x coverage + exclusions)|
|Floor area less Exclusions||27,634.84 m2
|Residential floor area||19,901 m2||25,015 m2||Varies|
|Commercial floor area||7,733 m2||2,615 m2||Varies|
Note: to convert square metres to square feet, multiply by 10.76.
We’ve added commentary to explain a number of the key differences between the new and old proposals.
Residential units: The new Rize adds another 95 condo units on top of the 241 in the original design. This makes for a total of 336 condo units, or a 39.4% increase in the residential unit dwelling count.
An additional 95 condo units increases the profit margin and hence land lift* as the space was taken away from less lucrative commercial rental. Hence the calculations for CACs (Community Amenity Contributions) should be redone. Allocating additional CACs is a discussion for a Public Hearing.
Storeys: The staff report on January 20, 2012 used as the basis for the Public Hearing clearly stated a maximum of 19 storeys in Appendix J. The updated Rize has an additional 3 storeys above the stated maximum for a total of 22 storeys.
Parking spaces: The original rezoning had 320 parking spaces in 3 levels of underground parking. The new design has 387 parking spaces in 4 levels of underground parking. The drawings submitted by Rize show that the city requires only 259 parking spaces total.
Food co-op: The large 34,000 sq ft (3,159m2) food co-op discussed during the Public Hearing has been removed. The total commercial floor area has been reduced from 7,733 m2 to 2,615 m2.
Height: There is a slight increase in the overall height of the tower. The old 2012 drawings showed a starting base elevation of 40.64m used to measure the tower height. Using that base elevation, the new tower height is 66.04m or 216.67’, a height that exceeds the 215’ maximum height in the rezoning report. The applicant wishes to redefine the base height to measure the tower up to a higher elevation – to 41.15m in order to claim they are within a 215’ or 65.53m height limit. The new design is 106.68 m above sea level vs. 106.15 m for the old design, when measuring to the top parapet.
Furthermore, there is a proposal to add Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar trees to the top of the new building design. The highest tree planter is 109.45m above sea level. The trees are specified for planting with a 2.4m (or 8’) height and the drawings show the tallest trees at an approximate 7.6m (25’) height when grown. The addition of large trees on the top of the tower would further impact shadows and views and effectively increase the overall height.
Floor area: The total floor area has increased by around 1,000 m2 from 30,915.93 m2 to 31,905.43 m2. The applicant has claimed additional area exclusions that were created during the conversion of commercial space to residential space; this is why the Floor Space Ratio still remains at 5.55. City of Vancouver staff will verify the applicant’s area and density calculations. The additional level of underground parking is not counted in the additional floor area total as the City excludes underground floor area.
CAC (Community Amenity Contribution): The targets of the CACs are still to be determined. City staff was given 6 months to report back to City Council on strategies for the CAC allocation, as recorded in the minutes of the April 17, 2012 Council meeting. City staff is late. The $4.5 million CAC would be used “ in the form of capital contribution” and/or “operating endowment in order to bring on line community-based artist production space in the Mt Pleasant community.” As well, a total of $1.75 million would be “designated for affordable housing for contributing to the availability of affordable housing in the Mount Pleasant community”. While there is now a discussion about at least the Art CAC, no targets for allocations have been determined. As such, it is impossible to comment on the CAC. The CACs have yet to be paid out by the proponent, and the project must still go back to City Council.
Pedestrian safety, cyclist safety, traffic concerns, noise, trolley bus access on East 10th Avenue, shadowing, views, an underground stream on the site, impacts on neighbouring buildings, and precedents for the scale of future developments were also mentioned at the Community Outreach Meeting as other important issues to examine.
When the Public Hearing concluded on April 17, 2012, Council set forward a long list of conditions for the rezoning. Many of these are highly technical; however, for the record are available under the following link (see pages 6 to 18): http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120417/documents/regu20120417min.pdf
The rezoning passed by a 9-1 vote (with Councillor Adriane Carr opposed and Councillor Tim Stevenson abstaining). However, the form of development has not yet been approved. The rezoning itself has not yet been enacted into law despite the 16 months that has elapsed since the Council decision.
Members of the public are engaging City Hall in good faith on their own time to help shape the future of our community.
Further information on the development proposal is available on the City’s website (note address change to 285 East 10th Avenue); the panels shown at the July 17th, 2013 Open House are available at this link. The original project details are up on the rezoning website while the Public hearing documents are contained in the Council meetings pages (see links here and here). You may also wish to contact firstname.lastname@example.org about your concerns with the new Rize proposal.
*land lift is an expression used to describe the increase in the value of land as a result of a rezoning. For a more detailed explanation see the article http://www.artsadvocacybc.ca/land-lift-and-bc-place/