Tall rental housing tower proposed above SkyTrain's future South Granville Station

Jul 14 2021, 6:09 pm

A significant number of additional floors could be added to the low-rise commercial building currently being constructed at the northeast corner of the intersection of West Broadway and Granville Street.

Next week, Vancouver City Council is expected to allow city staff to formally accept and review a rezoning application by PCI Developments for 1477-1489 West Broadway. The property is already a construction zone for a five-storey retail and office building, which was approved through the city’s development permit application stream following existing zoning.

This is a significant redevelopment as the provincial government and TransLink have partnered with the developer to situate the entrance into the future South Granville Station of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line Broadway Extension within the prominent corner of the development. The developer is providing ground level floor space, and a portion of the P1 and P2 underground levels for the station’s concourse.

In 2019, PCI Developments proceeded with a development permit application to expedite the project, given the critical timeline of completing the subway station by 2025, when the SkyTrain extension is scheduled to open.

1465-1489 West Broadway Vancouver South Granville Station

Artistic rendering of Broadway Subway’s South Granville Station. integrated into the five-storey commercial building at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

1465-1489 West Broadway Vancouver South Granville Station

Artistic rendering of Broadway Subway’s South Granville Station. integrated into the five-storey commercial building at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

1465-1489 West Broadway Vancouver South Granville Station

Artistic rendering of Broadway Subway’s South Granville Station. integrated into the five-storey commercial building at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

As a five-storey building, the structure is engineered to support a drastic increase in floors and density.

There are also six underground parkade levels that provide 294 vehicle parking stalls — far more than what is required for the current design with about 78,000 sq ft of total floor area, including 10,500 sq ft of ground-level retail space and 67,000 sq ft of office space on levels two to five. This achieves a floor area ratio density of a floor area that is only three times the size of the lot.

In anticipation of a vertical expansion, space has also been set aside for an extra elevator core and a ground-level residential lobby accessed from Granville Street.

1465-1489 West Broadway Vancouver South Granville Station

Diagram of Broadway Subway’s South Granville Station integrated into 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. Six underground parking levels and the subway station footprint are shown. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

1465-1489 West Broadway Vancouver South Granville Station

Ground-level layout of Broadway Subway’s South Granville Station integrated into the five-storey commercial building at 1477 West Broadway, Vancouver. Space for the corner subway station entrance, future residential lobby entrance on Granville Street, and extra elevator core are shown. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership/PCI Developments)

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)

Given this early stage, details and artistic renderings of the preliminary design for the rezoning proposal have yet to be publicized, but city staff have indicated it calls for additional office space and rental residential housing, with 20% of the units as moderate income rental homes. There would also be additional retail space to incorporate a grocery store, which has been identified as a need for the area.

City staff describe the vertical expansion as a “rental residential tower” above the commercial podium, with “a height and density significantly above what is permitted under existing zoning.” It aligns with the emerging directions of the yet-to-be-finalized Broadway Plan, which emphasizes greater density through height, transit-oriented developments, and employment and affordable residential density.

It is also noted by city staff that there are no view cone height restrictions for this site.

A neighbouring proposal could offer a hint of the height and density that could be considered for the site; earlier this month, just a block to the east, a rezoning application was submitted for a 24-storey office tower at 1395 West Broadway. At 315 ft, unaffected by view cones, it would be the new tallest building on the Broadway Corridor. In July 2020, city council also approved a 283-ft-tall, 28-storey rental housing tower for the Denny’s restaurant site two blocks to the east.

1395 west broadway vancouver office tower

Artistic rendering of the office tower at 1395 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Andrew Cheung Architects/Yuanheng Holdings)

1395 west broadway vancouver office tower

Artistic rendering of the office tower at 1395 West Broadway, Vancouver. (Andrew Cheung Architects/Yuanheng Holdings)

PCI Developments’ request for a formal rezoning application submission for the redevelopment’s ultimate built form also deals with tight timing.

There would be access challenges to the new subway station if there is a significant delay in construction between the existing design allowed by the development permit and the vertical expansion under the rezoning application. Protective construction hoarding may be needed beyond the subway’s opening day along sidewalks and plazas, potentially impacting access to the station and requiring the temporary relocation of bus stops.

These challenges would arise if city council were to review the rezoning application after the finalization of the Broadway Plan, which is not anticipated until early 2022.

City staff state the BC Ministry of Transportation has confirmed the potential impacts to public transit users if construction on the private development above the subway entrance is restarted or if the construction window is extended.

south granville station skytrain broadway extension

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

south granville station skytrain broadway extension

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

south granville station skytrain broadway extension

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

“Given PCI’s estimated construction completion date on their current development permit, some construction delay will occur before the proposed rezoning, and subsequent development and building permits could be secured,” reads a city staff report.

“However, commencing the rezoning process earlier than adoption of the Broadway Plan if the rezoning application is approved by city council following a public hearing could expedite construction by at least six months, and help minimize impacts on circulation and access to the South Granville Station when the Broadway Subway opens.”

Excavation of the deep pit for the parkade levels and structural supports is complete, and construction work at the site has reached the P5 underground parking level. Construction on the station entrance will begin when the development rises to the P2 level.

PCI Development has been pursuing a mixed-use redevelopment of this property, previously a four-storey RBC office and branch building, since 2011. In late 2019, city council agreed to sell to the developer the portion of the north-south laneway that runs through the land assembly that forms the development site.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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