The fifth time will likely be the charm for the controversial project to redevelop a vacant corner lot at 105 Keefer Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown district.
On behalf of local developer Beedie Living, Merrick Architecture has submitted a new development application to the City of Vancouver to develop the site into a shorter nine-storey, 90-ft-tall building with 111 market residential units. There will also be ground level space for retail, restaurants, and a subsidized seniors’ cultural space.
This is the project’s fifth design since it was first proposed in 2013. It follows Vancouver City Council’s rejection of a rezoning application for the project’s previous design last month, which called for a building height of 120 ft with 12 st0reys, 110 market residential units, and 25 social housing units for seniors.
However, in the latest design, in an effort to appease opponents of the project who said the building was “too tall”, all social housing units have been eliminated in order to abide with existing zoning policies.
It is essentially the same architectural design that City Council rejected, but three storeys including all social housing benefits have been removed.
Rejected design by Vancouver City Council on June 13, 2017
New design, minus three floors and all social housing units
As the project is proceeding with a development application instead of a rezoning application for a design with greater density, it does not have to face the same public scrutiny as it did previously.
“We see the Keefer project as an important addition to Chinatown,” says Houtan Rafii, Vice President of Residential Development at Beedie Living, in a statement earlier this month.
“We have been listening to the concerns people have expressed and sincerely appreciate every stakeholder who has collaborated with us towards the evolution of the proposal. We truly hope that this new proposal will reflect, as much as possible, the diverse perspectives we have heard.”
The previous design was rejected despite the increased height and density allowances permitted under the municipal government’s 2010-approved Historic Area Height Review and the 2012-approved Chinatown Neighbourhood Plan & Economic Revitalization Strategy. Both plans were designed as blueprints for the economic revitalization of Chinatown.
An open house for the development application is scheduled for September 5 from 5 pm to 8 pm at the Chinese Cultural Centre. The project will likely be approved by the Development Permit Board when it convenes to review the proposal at 3 pm on October 2 at Vancouver City Hall.