The Safeway Site: A Bad Revision

November 14, 2021

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Revised Safeway Megatower Plan a Failure

The folks at No Megatowers at Safeway have looked at the proposed new revision for the major development at Commercial & Broadway, and they find it sadly lacking.

For example, one of the selling points of the new revision is a so-called “[r]eduction of building height by one-storey on each of the residential towers,” which makes it seem that the towers will be less tall. However, the reduction in residential space is made up for with changes to the retail/commercial plinth and associated architecture, and two of the towers will actually be taller than previously proposed. To quote their analysis:

“For example, in Tower A, the height from ground to the top previously was 105.6meters (346 feet). It now rises to 113.3meters – a height of 371.7 feet … The retail “plinth” for Tower A previously was 28.1 meters; it now is  29.6 meters. The “plinth” contains two mezzanine levels. It is the equivalent of about 8 commercial storeys, and of 10.8 standard residential storeys. On the roof of Tower A there is 11 meters (36 feet)  of height above the roofline –  previously there was only 2.5 meters.  This all matters in terms of shadowing and mountain views.

The “public plaza” also remains an issue:

“It still runs along the edge of the skytrain line, in its shadow, the trains loudly thundering by. It is not a “sunny, welcoming, delightful and people-friendly civic plaza” as required by the Grandview Woodland Community Plan. Nor is it centrally located in the development … This plaza was so key to the Grandview Woodland Community Plan because it is instead of a park – this neighbourhood has few parks.”

Another very important change in the Revision is elimination of the promise to provide childcare spaces. This not only goes against all previous iterations of developers’ promises but ignores the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan’s specific call for an increase in such childcare spaces as a primary neighbourhood need.

There is still time for you to register your thoughts on this proposal. Go to Shape Your City.


Safeway Site Open House

November 9, 2021

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The story so far is here.

Now, the developers are offering two open houses to discuss their latest revision of the development plan. They will take place on Friday 19th November at the Cultch. There will be two brief sessions organized by the developer’s PR company at 9:00am and 10:00am.

There is a VERY limited number of registrations allowed for each session. They claim this is a covid requirement but it also acts to lower the possibility of large numbers of those residents opposed to the development. causing a fuss. Vaccine passports will be required.

If you are interested, please register at www.broadwaycommercial.ca/register as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.


Petition Against Safeway Tower

January 27, 2021
Image: artists against the towers

Further to my note of a couple of weeks ago regarding the growing opposition to a series of huge towers at Broadway and Commercial, the group now has a petition that I urge everyone to sign.

The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/NomegatowersatSafeway


More On The Safeway Site

January 17, 2021

Since my post about the new group opposing the appallingly large towers at the Safeway site at Broadway & Commercial, the usual YIMBY crowd has suggested that community groups don’t know what they’re talking about, and that developers/planners know what’s best for us.

For their edification, here is Scot Hein who was head of the design group for CoV Planning and is currently professor in the Masters of Urban Design program at UBC talking about this site:

“We imagined, he wrote, a series of related, modestly scaled low and mid-rise buildings in this scenario …  Otherwise, we believed that the appropriate approach to intensifying an already relatively high density community, of what must be seen as “special urban fabric”, was in transitional mid to low rise form. 

We absolutely did not support towers outside the focused “Safeway Precinct”.  We were instructed to put this plan (in our view based on thoughtful urban design best practice) in the drawer never to see the light of day.

We were then “told” by senior management to prepare a maximum tower scheme which we produced under protest as we declared we did not support such an uninformed approach for the GW neighbourhood.”

Source: “Battleground: Grandview” (p.67-68), quoting comment by Scott Hein at Price Tags, Vision: The end of the residential highrise? 2014 Nov 10

Update: Scot has asked me to clarify that he was supporting two modestly scaled towers for the Safeway site, with lower tower buildings for nearby transitional sites on 10th, which I am happy to do.


Opposition to Safeway Site Hardens

January 16, 2021

The City of Vancouver Planning Department have been keen to put a tower on the Safeway site at Commercial & Broadway since the late 1980s, and community opposition to such a project has been fierce for the same length of time. For those interested in the history of the struggle over that site for the last decade can read the whole sorry business in these columns. It is also covered in detail in my book “Battleground: Grandview“.

The latest version of the developers’ pipedream is even worse than previous incarnations, rising 39 storeys above our human scale low- and mid-rise neighbourhood.

And it has attracted a great deal of neighbourhood criticism. This opposition has now begun to coalesce into an active group that has launched a website.

I urge you to read what they have to say, and to sign up to get involved and/or just to keep yourself informed on this development which will affect our wonderful neighbourhood for generations.