Details of Rize development revealed at open house

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Naoibh O’Connor
Van. Courier

More details about the mixed-use Rize complex planned for Kingsway and Broadway will be revealed at an open house Monday evening (April 14).

City council approved the rezoning application for the project in April 2012. Residents are now being asked their thoughts on the revised development application for the site, which features a 21-storey tower, 258 residential units, 7,295 square feet of commercial space, 399 parking stalls and 350 bicycle stalls.

The project goes before the Urban Design Panel April 23 and before the Development Permit Board June 30.

Chris Vollan, Rize’s vice-president of development, told the Courier Monday before the open house that the design conforms to council’s directions at the rezoning and also responds to some feedback garnered at a previous open house last July.

“The main thing, in responding to council directions, is the character development of the building. Height, use and density are fixed as they were approved two years ago, so we’re largely talking about those other things.”

Vollan said council asked that “shadow performance” be improved on Broadway, so that building block was lowered by 30 feet. The Kingsway and Watson blocks we’re also lowered, as was the 10th avenue block.

“On top of that, the big move is separating each into a different character based on the character and the feel of the street that it’s on and separating them such that it lightens the massing and it makes it feel more like a grouping of unique buildings,” he said.

The Residents Association of Mount Pleasant (RAMP) continues to be critical of the project and argues that so many changes have been made that it should go back to public hearing.

On its website, RAMP states key differences between the proposal and the one that went before council two years ago include the 21-storey tower, which is up from 19-storeys; the inclusion of 399 parking spaces — up from 320 parking spaces; condo units numbering 258 — up from 241 units; and the fact there’s no food co-op.

RAMP spokesman Stephen Bohus told the Courier the inclusion of the food co-op was one of the reasons mayor Gregor Robertson supported rezoning.

“This is a bigger question of bait and switch,” he said. “…The question is if they want to make these changes, it should go back to city council for a full public hearing.”

Bohus also maintains misleading graphics were used during the process and facts weren’t presented correctly.

He said the project would only have been palatable had it followed the Mount Pleasant Community Plan, which didn’t indicate the site would have additional density.

Vollan, meanwhile, says the tower height is 65.3 metres — exactly as approved.

He said the food co-op dropped out of the project because it couldn’t get financing and parking spaces were increased after and input from potential commercial tenants indicated there wasn’t enough parking for a large anchor tenant.

Vollan said the number of condo units was increased by 17 through “more efficient planning.”

“We took a number of two-bedrooms and split them into one-bedroom suites. That was based on both how they fit in the building and the market demand we were hearing. So we haven’t increased our area at all,” Vollan said. “But we’ve introduced a few smaller homes.”

Vollan dismisses RAMP’s call for a new public hearing.

“RAMP is sounding like the Tea Party of Mount Pleasant,” he said. “There are no significant changes to the application… We’re bang on for height, use and overall density. So there are no grounds for that argument.”

The city will accept written comments on the development application until May. 5. Comments may also be considered up until the date of the decision.

The open house is April 14 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Church, 2881 Main St.

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