Marpole rezoning plan tops unprecedented heights

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Proposal includes 24-storey tower

Cheryl Rossi
Van. Courier

The building proposal includes a 24-storey rental tower. Photograph by: submitted, for Vancouver Courier

A key property in Marpole on Granville near West 70th Avenue could undergo a radical transformation under a proposed rezoning that would bring increased density and unprecedented building heights to the gateway neighbourhood.

Henriquez Partners Architects has applied to the city on behalf of developer Westbank Projects to rezone the property, home to a Safeway store, under the city’s Short Term Incentives for Rental, or STIR, program.

The proposal would see the Safeway store rebuilt closer to Granville, a 24-storey rental tower, a 14-storey tower of condominiums and a nine-storey slab building of townhouses at street level with condominium units above.

Marpole at present is a mixture of older apartment buildings, few higher than three stories, and single family homes.

The city will host the first public meeting about the planned development at Marpole Place Sept. 20.

Gudrun Langolf, president of the Marpole-Oakridge Area Council Society, which runs Marpole Place, said she has heard concerns from residents.

“The folks that have stopped me to talk to me about it, my neighbours, are unanimous that it’s far too high and too dense and that the STIR program is not helping,” Langolf said.

“The concerns range from what on Earth is going to happen to my liquor store to why on Earth isn’t there an area plan that’s up to date and takes into account what to do with the growth,” Langolf added.

Like the STIR projects in the West End, the proposal has residents, including Vancouver’s former assistant director of planning, Trish French, calling on the city to develop a comprehensive area plan with the community before any significant redevelopment is approved.

Brent Toderian, director of planning for the city, said staff will report to council this fall whether Grandview-Woodland, the West End/downtown or Marpole should undergo area planning next.

The STIR program, running until December 2011, aims to boost the city’s aging and static stock of rental housing. It offers an increase in building density as an incentive to developers.

Architect Gregory Henriquez, whose firm is working on three STIR projects, argues the density increase at the Marpole site is not as significant as some might think.

Langolf argues the STIR program isn’t so vital because older rental buildings in the area have more affordable and spacious units than new suites.

Henriquez estimates of the 172 rental units proposed, 110 would be approximately 500-square-foot one-bedrooms and 62 approximately 780 square-foot two-bedrooms. He expects a one-bedroom would rent for $1,075 a month, a two-bedroom for $1,677.

He’s mainly heard concerns about the loss of the liquor store, which he believes would be included in a redevelopment, and about the need for open space. His firm is looking at incorporating two “pocket parks” into the design.

A lane will run behind the Safeway to keep delivery trucks off Granville, he added. The application includes a traffic report.

He and Toderian emphasized that the proposal is in its early stages so residents should attend the open house Sept. 20. It runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Marpole/Oakridge Community Centre, 990 West 59th Ave. with remarks from Toderian, Henriquez, Langolf and the head of the Marpole business association at 6:30 p.m. and a question and answer session at 7:30 p.m.

A community information meeting and open house about the Marine Gateway project at the southern foot of Cambie Street runs tonight, Sept. 15, at 8515 Cambie St. from 5 to 8 p.m.

© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

Comments are closed.