City Council approves 39-storey tower above SkyTrain's South Granville Station

Apr 26 2022, 7:50 pm

Following a public hearing that spanned three nights earlier this month, Vancouver City Council has green-lighted the proposal to build a significant mixed-use tower with rental housing and office and retail uses directly above SkyTrain’s future South Granville Station.

The vote on PCI Developments’ rezoning application was conducted Tuesday morning, with city council voting 9-2. TEAM councillor Colleen Hardwick and COPE councillor Jean Swanson were opposed.

The 407-feet-tall, 39-storey tower will be located at 1477 West Broadway — the northeast corner of the intersection of Granville Street and West Broadway. This tall height is possible as the vicinity is not impacted by Queen Elizabeth Park’s protected mountain view cone, which will allow for some of the tallest buildings under the forthcoming Broadway Plan.

This will be the new tallest building within Central Broadway, exceeding the height of Vancouver General Hospital and other future towers in the area, and enables the only station fully integrated into a building upon the opening of the Millennium Line Broadway Extension in late 2025.

1477 west broadway vancouver south granville station tower pci developments

Artistic rendering of the tower concept above the future South Granville Station at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

1477 west broadway vancouver south granville station tower pci developments

Artistic rendering of the tower concept above the future South Granville Station at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

Currently, construction is already well underway on the project for the placeholder five-storey retail and office concept previously approved through a development permit application under existing zoning. The current construction is designed in a way to allow for a significant vertical extension to allow for substantially more density and mixed uses, which has now been approved and reduces the window of construction and area impacts.

“The need to continue to progress our development is increasingly acute as South Granville Station gets closer to opening in 2025. By supporting the rezoning now, you are facilitating the successful unobstructed completion of South Granville Station, the fully integrated station on the Broadway subway, which faces many challenges and constraints given the busy intersection and transit node,” Tim Grant, the president of PCI Developments, told city council this morning before the vote.

“Delaying the decision on the development today will exacerbate our ability to complete our work at South Granville Station, commits an already complex infrastructure and development public-private collaboration, and prolongs challenges for transit users, pedestrians, local businesses, and vehicle traffic, and extending the challenging conditions experienced during COVID and subway construction.”

1477 west broadway vancouver south granville station tower pci developments

Artistic rendering of the tower concept above the future South Granville Station at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

Aside from neighbourhood residents’ concerns about the tower’s perceived excess height and density, building shadowing, change in the area’s character, potential traffic increases, and added pressure on area parks, community amenities, and schools, the proposal attracted criticism for being considered before the finalization of the Broadway Plan, which will be decided by city council next month through another public hearing.

During this morning’s deliberations, city council rejected a proposed amendment by TEAM councillor Colleen Hardwick to defer and postpone the decision. Echoing public speakers, she asserted the proposal is an affront to the democratic process, and puts “the cart before the horse” and is “leapfrogging the Broadway Plan.”

A Better City councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung also added that the process lacks “perceived transparency,” and negatively impacts the legitimacy of the Broadway Plan.

Vancouver city manager Paul Mochrie warned that deferring today’s decision would mean this project would go through a new public hearing by city council after the October 2022 civic election. City council’s public hearing dates through the end of July, before the August summer break, are already full, and new bylaws do not permit public hearings to be scheduled in September just weeks before the election.

1477 west broadway vancouver south granville station tower pci developments

Artistic rendering of the tower concept above the future South Granville Station at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

vancouver broadway plan november 2021

Broadway Plan area for new building heights around SkyTrain South Granville Station, including 1477 West Broadway. (City of Vancouver)

But Green Party councillor Adriane Carr challenged the assertions that this decision was putting the cart before the horse. In July 2021, city council provided city staff with the permission to accept and review a rezoning application calling for a tall tower at the location under the Broadway Interim Rezoning Policy, which is temporarily in effect during the years-long planning process for the Broadway Plan. This interim policy stipulates projects such as 100% rental housing for the residential component can be considered.

“I believe we need to judge this based on that [interim] policy,” said Carr, emphasizing that this proposal is consistent with the interim policy, adding that “city staff have already indicated to us the Broadway Plan is already in a draft form” and is under a separate process.

It was also noted during the deliberations that the pandemic’s earlier impacts, particularly on public consultation, delayed and shifted the timeline for various planning processes and rezoning applications, including both the Broadway Plan and this rezoning application.

1477 West Broadway Vancouver South Granville Station

Form and uses of 1477 West Broadway at the future South Granville Station. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

1477 west broadway vancouver south granville station tower pci developments

Mixed uses of the tower above the future South Granville Station at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

The redevelopment includes 223 secured rental homes within the upper levels, with 80% as market rental units and 45 units as below-market units under the city’s Moderate Income Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP).

Within the lower floors below the residential uses, there would also be 100,000 sq ft of office space, a 22,000 sq ft grocery store, and over 7,000 sq ft of retail and restaurant space.

Six underground levels, which are already largely built as part of the placeholder design under construction, will contain 285 vehicle parking stalls and 507 secured bike parking spaces. The tower’s total floor area will be 318,000 sq ft, providing a floor area ratio density of a floor area that is 12.3 times larger than the size of the lot.

“Rapid transit stations are most appropriate for taller buildings and specifically rental. Of all locations in the city, it’s rapid transit stations that should be the highest,” said Carr, who also noted the tower will have 95% fewer emissions than an average building of this type.

A Better City councillor Lisa Dominato stated this scale of density and height is the transit-oriented development norm for other SkyTrain stations across the region.

1477 west broadway vancouver south granville station tower pci developments

Artistic rendering of the tower concept above the future South Granville Station at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

Rebecca Bligh, another councillor with A Better City, argued that the amount of vehicle parking provided for a location next to the SkyTrain station is a mistake, but conceded that it is allowed by the city’s policies.

Green Party councillor Michael Wiebe said it is surprising to him that only one of the six new subway stations is seeing fully integrated building developments with the station entrances, timed with the SkyTrain extension’s opening day, and called it a “lost opportunity.”

Swanson opposed the project on the basis that the homes are not affordable enough, specifically desiring below-market rental units for households earning $50,000 and under.

In exchange for the rezoning approval, PCI Developments will provide the city with $5.3 million in public benefits, including $4.7 million in city-wide and utilities development cost levies, and $631,000 in public art. This does not include the in-kind value of the below-market rental housing, and the allocation of space within the building to accommodate the station entrance and concourse level.

1477 west broadway vancouver south granville station tower pci developments

December 2021 construction progress of the building above the future South Granville Station at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

1477 west broadway vancouver south granville station tower pci developments

December 2021 construction progress of the building above the future South Granville Station at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

south granville station skytrain broadway extension

SkyTrain South Granville Station design concept, April 2021. (Government of BC)

south granville station broadway subway

South Granville Station on the SkyTrain Millennium Line Broadway Extension (Broadway Subway). (Government of BC)

south granville station broadway subway

South Granville Station on the SkyTrain Millennium Line Broadway Extension (Broadway Subway). (Government of BC)

south granville station broadway subway

South Granville Station on the SkyTrain Millennium Line Broadway Extension (Broadway Subway). (Government of BC)

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