City hall greenlights density hike
A reader wrote (in a comment on another thread that will not appear there)
Thoughts on this news story?
And normally this is not something I would get into very much, because it is not my neighbourhood. I do not live in Vancouver and I only know the site because of passing through West Broadway.
But on the other hand, West Broadway is one of the most important commercial strips in town. Meredith and I have traded thoughts on the need for rapid transit on this corridor – and whether it should be on the surface or underground. And as you can see from the map, this is the centre of medical business district. Proximity to the hospital means many doctors – and related services, such as labs, xrays, nursing agencies all locate themselves here. Which means most of us have spent more time around here than we would have liked to – and spent a bit in the retail and catering businesses that service the area.
Quite why it needs more residential development is questionable – but again if the people who work here could afford to live close to their jobs, not a bad idea. But as is far too common across the region the parking provision is excessive “122 residential units with 159 residential parking spaces in three levels of underground parking”. It might be thought a deal to reduce the amount of parking would cut costs to the developer, help to alleviate local concerns about traffic, and also help the car co-op. Indeed there is plenty of precedent for such a deal. People who live here will have very good transit close at hand, and a lot they can walk to, so the need for every unit to have a parking space plus 37 visitor spots seems high to me. No, it isn’t Yaletown, but Vancouver is going to have to accept that as the more people move to the region, greater density in Vancouver outside of the downtown core is going to be essential, if only to get the best return on the rapid transit investment.
The people who come to public hearings always tend to be those who have concerns. And I do not think that these have necessarily been addressed. There will be a shadow effect in winter – so Peter Ladner’s comments are far from emollient. This developer will argue he has already contributed a lot elsewhere, so the parking deal may actually appeal. He gets a lower cost (underground parking being very expensive to build) but the new residents still have access to a car when they need one without the cost of car ownership.
In other cities in North America the requirement for affordable housing would have been much more onerous.
It is also the case that our housing market is about to tip over the edge. There is much more supply on the market now, and buyers are able to be picky. There are fewer Americans buying here – just because their domestic market has gone bad in a very big way. We have yet to see prices actually fall here, but we will, I am sure. And we have also seen other condo developments founder on the combination of rising construction cost and limited capacity of the construction business to take on more work.
So those considerations might have been in the planners’ minds. They got $1m for traffic calming and bike route improvements, and 6 out of 122 units is something if not the 10% most other places aim for.
So not a disaster – but also not nearly as good as it could have been.