Rize Alliance Properties to build a full-block, 19-storey condo tower on the southwest corner of Broadway and Kingsway

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Vancouver residents rise up with Rize development plan

Andrew Fleming
Van. Courier

City council met Monday night to discuss a controversial rezoning application for a high-rise development that some residents worry would make Mount Pleasant a less pleasant place to live.

More than 180 Vancouver residents signed up at the public hearing to give their opinions on the proposed plan by Rize Alliance Properties to build a full-block, 19-storey condo tower on the southwest corner of Broadway and Kingsway. Only one speaker was given a chance at the microphone before the meeting was adjourned at nearly midnight. The hearing was scheduled to continue again on Tuesday after the Courier’s print deadline.

City staff support the project that would see a total of 241 market condos in four distinct buildings ranging from five to 19 storeys tall and 320 underground parking spots. The triangular site, bordered by Broadway, Kingsway, 10th Avenue and Watson Street, is one of three sites specified for taller buildings under the Mount Pleasant Community Plan created in 2010.

Views are mixed over whether the project would undermine the bohemian character of the neighbourhood. The developer claims the building will provide much needed housing and higher density along a busy transit corridor.

“We bought this site with the belief that Mount Pleasant, only minutes from downtown Vancouver, will become a critical area to accommodate Vancouver’s growth,” said Rize president William Lin, who added that the city’s population is expected to double by 2050.

Woodrow Coward, a 94-year-old resident of a seniors care facility located nearby, feels the busy intersection already has too much traffic and that, while increased urban densification is needed, Mount Pleasant isn’t the right place for it.

“This is the Achille’s heel of the whole project, in my opinion,” Coward said. “The project is simply in the wrong place and I think it is the wrong use for that particular piece of land.”

Bob Kronbauer, the founder of the popular website VancouverIsAwesome.com, said the project is an opportunity for the city to help fulfill its intention of becoming the world’s greenest city by 2020.

“I make my living off of this, so you could say that I have a vested interest in the continued ‘awesomeness’ of Vancouver,” said Kronbauer. “As the population of Mount Pleasant continues to grow, I feel it would be a giant step back for the neighbourhood and the city as a whole if this rezoning application doesn’t get approved.”

The original proposal for the site had called for artist-studio space and 62 rental units under the Short Term Incentives for Rental (STIR) program. Last month, the city told Rize Alliance Properties Ltd. that it could instead convert the space to a cash community amenity contribution of $6.25 million, with $4.5 million to be put aside for cultural use in the Mount Pleasant area and $1.75 million into an affordable housing fund.

Vision Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal and Green Coun. Adrianne Carr both expressed concern that the money might not be spent in Mount Pleasant. “I think there is a lot of concern that it is not going to be used that way and spent within the community,” Deal said.

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