Grant Street Development: Open House

September 8, 2018

The major development proposal for 1535-1557 Grant will have an Open House this coming Tuesday, 11th September, between 5 and 8pm at Britannia Secondary School.

 

I reported on this from the February GWAC meeting, and tried to be free of editorializing at that time:

I attended the February meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council last night. There was a full house and a lot of intelligent community discussion … three neighbours of a proposed development on Grant Street, two of whom are professional architects, gave a presentation in opposition to the project as currently designed.

The developer has purchased four lots — 1535, 1545, 1549, and 1557 Grant — and proposes to demolish the 1½ -3 storey heritage houses on those lots and to build a 6-storey secured rental apartment complex of 40 units. Four of the units will be 3-bedroom, 12 of two bedroom, and 24 with one-bedroom.  They claim that this will be a “family-oriented” development even though the majority of units are unsuitable for families with children.

The zoning under the Community Plan allows for a 6-storey apartment building (although formal approval and a public hearing is still required) but the developer will be seeking a number of zoning changes including a significant reduction in parking requirements. They wish to supply just 19 automobile spaces for the 40 apartments.

This proposal is one of the five allowed under the Pace of Change regulations in the first three years of the Community Plan. Because it will be secured rental, the developer will have the Community Amenity Charges (CACs) waived, saving considerable expense.

The presenters have written to the Planning Department with their concerns. They explained that a large 6-storey building in the middle of this block of 2-3 storey houses would be out of place, especially as there is no planned transition between the smaller houses and the apartment building. They note that there are considerable slopes both east-west and north-south, and no lane, making access to the new building and along the narrow Grant Street very difficult, especially for emergency vehicles.  The shadowing of the neighbouring houses is expected to be extreme. There are also issues of noise and the loss of heritage trees.

It was noted that these will be market rentals (one-bedroom suites starting at about $1,800 a month) and so will add nothing to affordability in the neighbourhood.  The four houses being demolished are all currently rentals and most have basement or other additional suites.  It was pointed out by several members of the audience that in Grandview there are virtually no “single family houses”; most so-called SFHs have additional suites and are therefore twice or more as dense as some might think.

Several other audience members called the project a “block buster” which will inevitably lead to more such projects in similar low-rise streets and blocks.

This is a difficult one for me. I approve of the concept because we need a lot more purpose built rentals in Grandview; I have no problem with the size; and I have no issue with heritage problems as the street being redeveloped is not even close to being a pristine example of our Edwardian past — the houses are old rather than worthy.

 

However, this development is a typical Vision Vancouver giveaway, where the developer is to gain an enormous financial advantage for building units the rents of which 75% of the working population in the city cannot afford. So, as keen as I am to see rentals built, I have to list myself on the opposition side in the hope that something more affordable can be developed on the site.

There is more information in the this recent article in the Vancouver Courier.

Advertisements

The Evolution of a Wall

September 1, 2018

Way back in 1964, Roy Babic erected a modern building to house Babic Electric, the electrical and lighting store he and his wife ran at 952-956 Commercial.  It had a double storefront facing the Drive, with two apartment suites above; one with an entrance from the lane, and the other on Parker Street.

The southside wall of the structure running along Parker to the lane was a plain utilitarian painted wall. More recently, the wall has received a few coats of, usually, green paint that often reflects as shallow blue.  About five years ago, I began a series of photographs — the Greenspace series — that have illustrated the changes to the wall and the foliage over the years.

Earlier this summer, the wellness therapy clinic that has taken over the storefront decided their wall needed a mural. My quiet greenspace is no more — and the plants don’t seem to have come through it well.

Select image for a closer view.


Requiem For A Tree

July 30, 2018

My personal favourite tree in the entire neighbourhood has been cut down.

This magnificent tree stood at the south east corner of Commercial & Adanac.  Its majestic dome of a canopy was a wonder to behold.  I used to see it just about every day as I waited for the #20 going south, and I would day dream about the photographs I could take of shapes and patterns.

But no more.  That wonderful tree is now a pile of lumber surrounding a stump.

I guess the tree was on city land. I wonder if they have to go through the same rigorous processes that they quite rightly enforce on property owners seeking to remove a tree.  Somehow I doubt it.


Sr. Francis of Assisi School

May 14, 2018

During the first half of last year, we reported on efforts by St. Francis of Assisi church to rebuild their school. They had wanted to build it on Semlin, but community pressure obliged them to rethink and to consider redeveloping the school site they already operate on Victoria Drive. They have now released the first draft ideas of what such a school might look like.

 

These are presumably just drafts at this stage, but they give us a good idea of what might be proposed.

Select any image for a larger view.


Now That’s Blue!

March 10, 2018

I took a walk around the neighbourhood today, taking advantage of the splendid weather. I have been sedentary most of the winter, so it was a lovely feeling to catch up with the streets and buildings once again.

Perhaps it was the startlingly clear bright light, after so many months of grey and gloom, but I really hadn’t noticed before just how blue the house on the corner really is.  I love it!

 

Nor how yellow this block on Salsbury:

That’s the way to brighten up a neighbourhood!


Grant Street Development: The Neighbours Speak

February 6, 2018

I attended the February meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council last night. There was a full house and a lot of intelligent community discussion.

The scheduled speaker was Malcolm Bromley, general manager of Vancouver Parks. However, for the second month in a row he cancelled his appearance at the last minute.  It is as if Grandview and the east side doesn’t count for anything in his mind. I doubt he will be invited again.

In Bromley’s place, three neighbours of a proposed development on Grant Street, two of whom are professional architects, gave a presentation in opposition to the project as currently designed.

The developer has purchased four lots — 1535, 1545, 1549, and 1557 Grant — and proposes to demolish the 1½ -3 storey heritage houses on those lots and to build a 6-storey secured rental apartment complex of 40 units. Four of the units will be 3-bedroom, 12 of two bedroom, and 24 with one-bedroom.  They claim that this will be a “family-oriented” development even though the majority of units are unsuitable for families with children.

The zoning under the Community Plan allows for a 6-storey apartment building (although formal approval and a public hearing is still required) but the developer will be seeking a number of zoning changes including a significant reduction in parking requirements. They wish to supply just 19 automobile spaces for the 40 apartments.

This proposal is one of the five allowed under the Pace of Change regulations in the first three years of the Community Plan. Because it will be secured rental, the developer will have the Community Amenity Charges (CACs) waived, saving considerable expense.

The presenters have written to the Planning Department with their concerns. They explained that a large 6-storey building in the middle of this block of 2-3 storey houses would be out of place, especially as there is no planned transition between the smaller houses and the apartment building. They note that there are considerable slopes both east-west and north-south, and no lane, making access to the new building and along the narrow Grant Street very difficult, especially for emergency vehicles.  The shadowing of the neighbouring houses is expected to be extreme. There are also issues of noise and the loss of heritage trees.

It was noted that these will be market rentals (one-bedroom suites starting at about $1,800 a month) and so will add nothing to affordability in the neighbourhood.  The four houses being demolished are all currently rentals and most have basement or other additional suites.  It was pointed out by several members of the audience that in Grandview there are virtually no “single family houses”; most so-called SFHs have additional suites and are therefore twice or more as dense as some might think.

Several other audience members called the project a “block buster” which will inevitably lead to more such projects in similar low-rise streets and blocks.

The neighbours are now awaiting the developer to make a formal application to the city for rezoning. The GWAC Board will consider their position on the development.

 


Victoria & Adanac: A City Response

January 2, 2018

Further to my question the other day regarding the safety of the new intersection design at Victoria Drive & Adanac Street, I have received a response from Ross Kenny, Senior Transportation Design Engineer, City of Vancouver.

“There is a plan for a painted crosswalk and yellow paint on the median, however, we are waiting for the weather to improve before our crews are able to go out and do the painting.  We have heard a handful of complaints regarding the visibility of the median and we are following up with the installation of reflectors on the widest part of the median to make it more visible for drivers.  There was also a short period of time after installation that the street light at the intersection was out, which has now been fixed.

The design of the center median is based on a median design that was implemented 5 years ago at the intersection of Kaslo and Dundas Streets.  There are a number of center medians that were installed on Dundas Street which is similar in character to Victoria.  Generally we hear that the medians have made it easier to cross the street as pedestrians and cyclists only have to ensure that 1 direction of traffic has stopped before they are able to enter the road.  They also cost significantly less than a traffic signal and have the added benefit of slowing traffic, which has been a long-standing request on Victoria Drive.

We will be reviewing the design and making changes to reflect the feedback we receive and using this knowledge on future projects.”

I’ll be passing this on to the residents who wrote to me about this issue.  Anyone who wants to respond directly to Mr. Kenny should write to him at Ross.Kenny@vancouver.ca. I will also keep a watching brief on this and please let me know of any further incidents.