Kitsilano rental apartment building to be redeveloped into single-family houses

Mar 20 2023, 8:44 pm

Whenever residential redevelopments are pursued, there is typically an upgrade in terms of the number of homes provided and a corresponding increase in building floor area.

Moreover, it is exceptionally rare for a multi-family building to be downgraded to single-family houses through redevelopment for fewer households.

But that is the case for the redevelopment of 1000 Cypress Street — located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Ogden Avenue and Cypress Street, immediately south of the Vancouver Maritime Museum within Kitsilano Point.

The municipal government is currently in the midst of considering a development permit application by Formwerks Architectural to redevelop the 1972-built, two-storey building complex with eight rental housing units into three single-family houses under a home ownership arrangement.

Each new single-family house will have two-and-a-half floors, enabling larger families per unit.

The western and centre houses will share an underground parking level and driveway from McNicoll Avenue, providing each of these two houses with three vehicle parking spaces. The west house will have a building floor area of 3,850 sq ft, while the centre house will have 3,560 sq ft. According to the application, the rationale for the underground parking for these two houses is to enable more landscaping at ground level.

The eastern house will have a smaller building floor area of 3,240 sq ft, plus a garage building fronting McNicoll Avenue providing one vehicle parking space.

Existing condition:

1000 Cypress Street Vancouver 7

Site of 1000 Cypress Street, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architectural)

Future condition:

1000 Cypress Street Vancouver 7

Artistic rendering of the redevelopment of 1000 Cypress Street, Vancouver, into three single-family houses. (Formwerks Architectural)

1000 Cypress Street Vancouver 7

Site plan of the redevelopment of 1000 Cypress Street, Vancouver, into three single-family houses. (Formwerks Architectural)

All three houses have a floor area ratio (FAR) density of a floor area that is 0.75 times larger than the size of their lot — a total floor area that is smaller than the size of the property they occupy. The combined lot size is over 14,000 sq ft.

This low-density redevelopment is being pursued as existing zoning regulations do not allow for a similarly sized replacement multi-family building. Under the lot’s existing RT-9 zoning, only single-detached houses and duplexes are permitted, with a height limit of no more than 35 ft and a density of 0.75 FAR.

To enable higher density uses than what is currently permitted, a rezoning application would be required, which would add another step to achieve before engaging in the current development permit application process.

1000 Cypress Street Vancouver 7

Site of 1000 Cypress Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

1000 Cypress Street Vancouver 7

Site of 1000 Cypress Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

This project curiously adds more single-family housing uses within very close proximity to downtown Vancouver and stands in stark contrast to the immense Senakw redevelopment just a few blocks to the southeast.

According to the Kitsilano Point Residents’ Association, the Kitsilano Point area — framed by Cornwall Avenue to the south, Arbutus Street to the west, Ogden Avenue to the north, and Chestnut Street to the east — has about 1,100 homes, with 60% of these units being rental apartments. Senakw, in comparison, upon its full completion in the early 2030s, will have about 6,000 rental homes for up to 10,000 people within a small fraction of Kitsilano Point’s land area.

The recently enacted Broadway Plan calls for densification across much of Kitsilano, but its northern border of West 1st Avenue falls short of covering Kitsilano Point.

The City of Vancouver is currently in the process of considering allowing more density reaching up to a multiplex form for all single-family neighbourhoods with RS zoning, effectively consolidating the various types of RS zoning districts. While such proposed changes would affect much of Vancouver’s existing residential areas, they would not cover areas such as Kitsilano Point.

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