Do we need more expensive high-rise condo towers for Mount Pleasant? Should rezoning proposals undermine affordability, block public views and ignore the Community Plan? To answer these questions we’ve included a detailed analysis from a local resident on the rezoning proposal at 2290 Main Street. But first, here are the details about the Public Hearing:
Time: Tuesday, October 29, 6pm (will start with speakers at around 6:15pm after staff responses to council’s questions; this hearing is reconvened from Thursday, October 24th agenda)
Place: Vancouver City Hall (12th Avenue and Cambie)
To sign up and speak email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604.829.4238 and request to speak to the item 2290 Main Street. It’s also useful to request your speaker number as this will provide an indication when your name will be called. All speakers will have up to 5 minutes to address Mayor and Council.
Prior to the Public hearing you can also send your comments to Vancouver City Council (either by using the general email@example.com email or sending each Council member a separate email or letter).
For a video of the Staff presentation and further analysis, please see the following post on CityHallWatch: Case study: 2290 Main Street rezoning of Industrial Land. Is land speculation driving unaffordability?
Below is an in-depth analysis of many of the serious issues with the rezoning application at 2290 Main Street:
The City staff leased a rezoning Report for 2290 Main Street dated September 10, 2013. The analysis below will examine some of the incorrect or misleading statements in it. The original link is here: http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20130924/documents/p4.pdf
This rezoning Staff report on page 4 says, “Mount Pleasant Community Plan (2010) —
“For Main Street between 2nd and 7th Avenues, referred to as “Lower Main” in the implementation phase, the plan encourages mixed-use redevelopment that includes commercial, office and residential.”
The statements above are incorrect for the following reasons:
1. The Mount Pleasant Community Plan (MPC Plan) has not been implemented for the area of Main from 2nd to 7th Avenues. The MPC Plan is clear that when implementing the MPC Plan the entire area of Main Street from 2nd to 7th is to have a new planning program, this is on pages 30 and 31 of the MPC Plan. Until that happens this area is still Industrial Land and its rezoning policy is the Industrial Lands Policies, below are details on this policy. Why is that rezoning policy not being used for this site? The MPC Plan does not recommend spot rezonings on Main Street from 2nd to 7th Avenues.
2. The MPCP says several times that this area, Main from 2nd to 7th, is industrial land.
3. The MPCP clearly describes residential in new developments could be artist live-work units. Since this is an Industrial Zone artist live-work units are what should be built here because they are an industrial use, residential condos are not. The Metro Core Jobs describes new residential development on Main Street from 2nd to 7th to be compatible with other uses.
4. Residential artist live-work units as the residential portion of this project keeps people off the overcrowded transit and keeps people in the neighbourhood to shop locally. Allowing strictly residential here reduces the opportunity to produce job space. Here is the City link, Appendix A, for the Residential Compatibility Matrix for IC-2. http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/guidelines/B019.pdf
5. The Mount Pleasant Community Plan (MPCP) says this project is to contain office and retail. Where are the commercial and office uses in this development? The Metro Core jobs desired future role for Main from 2nd to 7th is to become a vibrant commercial and shopping district. This project doesn’t provide this.
The Industrial Lands Policies for this site say, http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/guidelines/I003.pdf
“For any rezoning applications, the following conditions will be considered before land is released from industrial uses:
(a) Compatibility of Proposed Land Uses with Existing Industrial Activity
The proposed development should not affect the operations of adjacent existing and potential future industrial activity in the area. The proposed development should not increase land values of surrounding industrial land.
(b) Land Use Suitability for Alternate Land Uses
The proposed development should comply with relevant planning policies such as Central Area Plan, Artist “live/work” Studio Policy, etc.
(c) Environmental Impacts
The proposed development should comply with relevant legislation concerning environmental impacts and mitigation measures. “
(ON DENSITY IN THE PROPOSED BUILDING)
The Staff Report on page 5 says, “The floor space ratio would be 4.92”. How can staff justify 4.92 FSR when 1.0 FSR is allowed for most uses in the zone and only manufacturing uses, transportation and storage uses, and Wholesaling – Class A are allowed 3.0 FSR? This rezoning site is in IC-2 zoning which says for Floor Space Ratio (FSR), “The floor space ratio shall not exceed 3.0.”
The Staff report on page 8 says, “b) Density — Recent developments in the surrounding area have generally achieved a density of 3.00 FSR, which is the maximum permitted in C-3A and IC-3 districts. A notable exception to this is the Rize development proposed at northwest corner of Kingsway and Broadway, with a density of 5.55 FSR. There is no policy direction in the Mount Pleasant Community Plan as to density achievable in a rezoning process.”
Is the City Planning Department seriously trying to use the Rize development as a precedent setting development to enable more FSR in other new developments in Mount Pleasant!!?
At the Rize rezoning Public Hearing the Mayor said, “That said those are the 3 and the rest of the development that will happen in Mount Pleasant will be much lower and modest scale.”
And, Councillor Jang said, “What would stop it from getting big? I mean if someone comes in with a rezoning on another parcel of land nearby. That’s what I think many of the residents are worried about is there‘ll just be another one of these type of processes.”
In the Public Hearing for The Rize project at Kingsway and Broadway, Council stated emphatically that this project would not serve as a precedent. The Rize has not even been formally approved because it has not yet met Council’s conditions for rezoning so how can staff use this project as a precedent?
At the Rize Public Hearing for Broadway & Kingsway, City staff were asked “If approved the project would be precedent setting and encourage other developments like it”. Staff answered in a memo dated April 2012 which said, “The MPC Plan clearly states that additional density and height beyond what is permitted in the C-3A zone, is “for selected sites only”, and they specified three locations, “The Rize site, Kingsgate Mall and the IGA site at Main and 14th.”
(ON COMPARING OTHER BUILDINGS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD TO THIS RE-ZONING)
The Staff report of on page 3 says,
a) To the south, at 1 Kingsway, is a 10-storey civic development containing the Mount Pleasant Community Centre on the ground floor and 98 market rental units on upper floors. Its height is 32.4 m (106.3 feet).
Per The City, 1 Kingsway earned its additional height above 70 feet and density above 1.0 FSR. The amenities that supported this additional density and height relaxations are summarized as follows:
– civic uses of enlarged branch library, and
– community centre which contributes significantly to the general amenity of the area;
– a 49 child day care centre to serve the immediate neighbourhood;
– provision of 99 long term, secured, rental housing;
– usable general public open space;
– streetscape enhancement including extension of the Wellness Walkway;
– high quality building resolution and materials including brick masonry;
– reference to the Historic Brewery Creek; and
– sustainable building features including storm water retention and landscaped roofs.
The Staff report of on page 3 says,
“b) To the east is a nine-storey development with 73 market condo units and 178 artist studios. Known as the District, this building is 25.7 m (84.3 ft.) in height.”
[below: on view looking north from One Kingsway and shows the rezoning site and ‘The District’.]
The District building to the east is not 9 storeys tall. The above ‘DISTRICT’ picture shows the District on the right side of the picture. It is only 7 storeys tall (at laneway) and in the lane it is 6 storeys in some places. If the rezoning application site to the left in the picture was built to 4 storeys at street level and 6 storeys set back on top by a 45 degree angle then the views of the mountains would remain.
The District building ‘use’ is mostly residential units in conjunction with artist studios (artist live-work units).
The District is also in a different zone, IC-3 which allows a 60 foot building with 3.0 FSR. This building to the east is 84.3 feet and is a Heritage Revitalization Agreement development. The additional height and density (3.4 FSR) for this building was achieved because there was a 14,000 sq. ft. heritage building retained. There was 5000 sq. ft. of artist studio space promised in the HRA. About half of the 5000 sq ft of the designated artist studio space has been rented to businesses.
The staff report also says on page 3,
“c) To the southeast is a nine-storey development with 119 market condo units. Known as the Social, the building is 30.2 m (96.8 ft.) in height.”
‘The Social’ building consists of 3, 4 and 9 storey portions. Most of this building is four storeys tall. To achieve 9 storeys the developer provided the south one-fifth of the site to an open stream park.
The Social is in a different zone, C-3A, which allows market residential condos.
(ON KEEPING THE MAIN STREET HILL DEVELOPED WITH LOW BUILDINGS)
The staff report on page 5 says, “3. Height, Density and Form of Development
The Mount Pleasant Community Plan outlines the key built-form and character principles that are relevant to this site. These include:
- maintain a distinctive “hill town” identity (Section 3.3);”
The MPC Plan at 3.3 says, “Hill town identity – Recognize that its slopes are natural form-makers on which a low profile for residential and commercial properties helps keep the sense of hill intact.”
The MPC Plan is clear that a LOW PROFILE is recommended for the Main Street hill. Here is the link to the MPC Plan. http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/MP-community-plan.pdf
(THIS BUILDING SHOULD BE 6 STOREYS)
The Staff report on page 6 says, “a) Height and Built Form — The nine-storey building is expressed in the form of a six-storey street wall with the remaining upper three levels having larger setbacks”.
The plan does not allow additional height above 6 storeys unless the MPC Plan is implemented with a rezoning of the entire area of Main Street from 2nd to 7th. And the current street wall allowed for this site is 40 feet, not 60 feet.
The staff report on page 8 says, “It is comparable to a density achievable under the base case scenario (i.e. a six storey building with no or minimal setback).”
Where does staff get this base case? The MPC Plan says “up to” 6 storeys which does not mean that buildings would be 6 storey tall blocks. The zoning calls for a 40 foot building at street level set back at a 45 degree angle above to 60 feet. That was also the intent of the MPC Plan, that’s why it says “up to” 6 storeys.
(FREEDOM OF INFORMATION INQUIRY SHOWS THE COMMUNITY DOES NOT SUPPORT THIS PROJECT)
Page 10 of the Staff report says, “Public responses to this proposal have been submitted to the City as follows:
- In response to the March 2013 open house, a total of 71 comment sheets were submitted from individuals (approximately 61% in favour/31% opposed/8% unsure or unspecified).”
The FOI information received on this project with regard to the March 2013 open house forms show that the staff’s analysis of the forms is misleading. Of the 42 comments for the project, 20, or 47% of these comments came from people outside of Mount Pleasant. Whereas of the 23 people opposed to the project only 2 people or 8 % came from outside of Mount Pleasant. So the Staff information that 61% are in favor is misleading because staff did not take into consideration where the people who filled out the forms came from.
(THIS PROJECT IS 10 STOREYS NOT 9 STOREYS)
Page 2 of this rezoning Report says, “The proposed height is 30.0 m (98.5 feet), including nine storeys plus a partial mezzanine level that is contained in the ground floor.”
On page 5 of the Staff report it says, “The application proposes a nine-storey development including a partial mezzanine level that is contained within the ground-floor volume.”
And on page 7 the Report says, “While the proposal appears as a nine-storey building along Main Street as well as along the commercial frontage of 7th Avenue, a 10-storey portion along 7th Avenue is proposed where the two-level townhouses are located.”
So it’s NOT 9 storeys but rather a 10 storey building or 67% taller than current zoning. And the street wall portion which is allowed to be a 40 foot building is proposed to be 50% taller than allowed at street level.
On a final note, if this re-zoning passes and sets a precedent on Main Street, there is another re-zoning waiting in line for Main and 2nd and they want a 12 storey building with as much density as the building at Main & 7th. These intentions have been outlined to MPIC (Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee).
Cheers, and in community solidarity there is hope.
Details on the proposal at Public Hearing scheduled for 29th October 2013 – 2290 Main Street are on the City of Vancouver’s website: http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/2290main/index.htm