Seven major organizations in Vancouver's Chinatown come forward in support of 105 Keefer proposal

May 25 2023, 12:22 am

Some of the largest and most influential organizations representing business, cultural, and housing interests in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown district have come forward in support of the nine-storey, mixed-use building proposal at 105 Keefer Street.

In an open letter released Wednesday afternoon, seven organizations have publicly declared their support ahead of the City of Vancouver’s Development Permit Board meeting to reconsider the 2017 development permit application by local developer Beedie.

The organizations entail the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, Chinese Freemasons of Vancouver, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden Society, Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Chinatown Merchant’s Association, Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association Society, and Vancouver Chinatown Foundation.

“This is an unprecedented, collective display of support for our community when it comes to development,” says Jordan Eng, president of the Chinatown Business Improvement Association, in a statement on behalf of all of the organizations.

“While our community was divided over this issue in 2014, much has changed since then and today, we stand united in support for this project, and for the continued renewal of Chinatown; this important, historic, and cultural jewel in our City.”

The open letter addressed to the municipal government’s leaders further elaborates that these organizations were largely against the original 2014 proposal over the taller height of three more storeys than permitted under City policies for the area at the time. In fact, six of the seven organizations were opposed at the time.

But in 2017, states the open letter, Beedie addressed those concerns by reducing the height and revising the design of the building facades to better align with the area’s heritage character.

It should be noted that in the process of reducing the height, one level of social housing for seniors with about 25 low- and moderate-income units was removed — due to the reduction of two other levels with market condominiums that would otherwise help support the cost of the affordable housing component.

Furthermore, the open letter adds that “the fear of displacement and rampant redevelopment has subsided. No new development applications have been submitted for Chinatown. Approved infill projects have stalled. We are losing legacy businesses at an alarming rate.”

“We further hope that the approved final project can serve as a model for respectful infill development and that the residents and businesses that choose this development will support and enhance the cultural heritage of neighbourhood that define Vancouver’s Chinatown.”

105 keefer street accurate view impact

Artistic rendering of the 105 Keefer Street building proposal from the intersection of Columbia and Keefer streets. (Merrick Architecture/Beedie)

105 keefer street accurate view impact

Artistic rendering of the 105 Keefer Street building proposal from Keefer Street looking west. (Merrick Architecture/Beedie)

On Monday, May 29 in a public meeting, following the 2022 decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordering the City of Vancouver to reconsider the proposal, the Development Permit Board’s panel will deliberate and re-vote on the application. The court determined the City’s 2017 rejection was “substantially unreasonable because the reasons provided by the Board are inadequate.”

The Development Permit Panel will reconsider the exact same proposed design last rejected in November 2017 during a highly heated public meeting that attracted hundreds of public speakers.

If approved, this will be a 90 ft tall, nine-storey building with 111 condominium homes, including 38 studio units, 30 one-bedroom units, 34 two-bedroom units, and nine three-bedroom units.

The ground level will contain 10,400 sq ft of commercial space for as many as nine retail/restaurant units — activating the building’s street frontages. A passageway will be created through the ground level of the building to provide public and unique commercial space access. As well, a portion of the ground level will serve as a new Senior Living Centre.

Three underground levels will contain 84 vehicle parking stalls and 159 secured bike parking spaces. The total floor area will reach 119,000 sq ft, establishing a floor area ratio density of a floor area that is 6.5 times larger than the footprint of the vacant lot. The project is designed by Merrick Architecture.

The lot of 105 Keefer Street at the northeast corner of the intersection of Keefer Street and Columbia Street has been vacant for decades, and its last structure was a gas station. Currently, it is used as surface vehicle parking.

The open letter jointly signed by leaders of Chinatown’s major organizations comes ahead of Thursday’s planned on-site rally by activists opposed to the development due to their concerns for gentrification, perceived excessive height, and desire for 100% affordable housing. They also suggested governments should acquire or trade other publicly-owned land in exchange for the 105 Keefer Street, which was previously considered as an option by the City and the developer, but the entities could not come to an agreement.

105 keefer street vancouver site

Existing condition of 105 Keefer Street, Vancouver. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

105 keefer street accurate view impact

Accurate depiction of potential view impacts of the 105 Keefer Street building proposal from Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. (Merrick Architecture/Beedie)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

+ News
+ Development
+ Politics
+ City Hall
+ Urbanized