The major transit-oriented, mixed-use redevelopment of the Safeway store site immediately next to SkyTrain’s Commercial-Broadway Station has shifted its focus to offering ample new rental housing.
A newly revised rezoning application — named simply as “Broadway & Commercial” — by local developer Westbank and Crombie REIT for the 2.4-acre property at 1780 East Broadway calls for 415 purpose-built market rental homes and 235 condominium homes. There will also be approximately 40 below-market rental homes for middle-income households earning between $30,000 and $80,000 annually.
Contrast this with the September 2019 rezoning application‘s housing tenures of 520 condominium homes and 160 market rental homes.
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“This revision seeks to create a balanced, mixed-use destination at the busiest transit station in Western Canada and incorporates a significant amount of housing of various tenures to ensure that the development is inclusive, “reads the application, designed by local architectural firm Perkins & Will. “We believe that providing housing options for households of all incomes and family sizes is a critical component to community building,”
“The shift in the residential program is a significant change that supports the housing direction provided within the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan. Resultant large building masses will rise above the skyline, and create a landmark reference for the Broadway Commercial Drive intersection.”
The revised proposal’s rental unit mix is 71 studio units, 220 one-bedroom units, 117 two-bedroom units, and 44 three-bedroom units, while the condominium unit mix is 38 studio units, 114 one-bedroom units, 62 two-bedroom units, and 22 three-bedroom units.
In total, there are 680 homes for approximately 2,000 people contained within the development. The rental housing component will increase the secured rental stock by 1% in Vancouver and 7% within the neighbourhood.
“The redevelopment presents the opportunity to create a sustainable, transit-oriented, mixed-use project in a compact and accessible urban form that respects and enhances the personality of the neighbourhood that surrounds it,” reads the design rationale.
“The provision of purpose-built rental housing will be a significant part of the overall residential component, addressing the need for more rental housing options close to transit.”
Relatively minor changes have been made to the overall form and design of the residential towers: the 30-storey condominium Tower A is located near the western edge of the site, closest to the SkyTrain station, while the 29-storey Tower B and 25-storey Tower C with rental housing are located near the northeast and southeast corners of the site. These tower heights are calculated from above the podium’s plinth.
Tower B and Tower C’s reconfiguration for rental housing squeeze in more floors by slightly lowering ceiling heights on each floor, and providing a very nominal increase in tower heights of under a storey.
Aside from the pivot to rental housing, the next most significant changes to the proposal are found in the base of the complex.
The large vertical garden between Tower A and B and the suspended hanging garden feature over the inner courtyard from the previous design have been removed and replaced with a simplified landscaping design. The lobbies of the residential towers are accessed from this courtyard.
As previously contemplated, there will be a 51,000-sq-ft new replacement Safeway store on the ground level.
The proposal also offers about 12,500 sq. ft. of retail and dining space, including three micro retail units at the southwest corner of the complex that front East 10th Avenue.
As well, the upper levels of the podium at the western edge of the complex will contain 49,000 sq. ft. of office space within two floors, a 10,000 sq. ft. fitness gym, and a 12,000-sq-ft, two-level daycare with an outdoor play area.
All of these commercial uses will overlook the redesigned 20,000-sq-ft public plaza between the complex and the SkyTrain station, which doubles as a mid-block pedestrian connection between East Broadway and East 10th Avenue.
A new grand “theatre staircase” positioned near the centre of the plaza provides not only the functional access to the upper levels of the podium and the inner courtyard, but also doubles as raised seating for community events, performances, and movie screenings.
The Safeway entrance and other retail frontage will help activate this major public space.
On the opposite side of the public plaza, the proponent envisions knocking down the first 30 feet of wall of the northern end of the station concourse to open up and enhance visual connections between the transit hub and the plaza.
There will also be a unique visual continuation of the architectural features of TransLink’s recently completed expansion of the SkyTrain station, with the white lattice pattern on the exterior of the new fifth platform continued below with a “more organic language of timber lattice, rooted in the memory or fantasy of a civic garden.” This lattice interpretation below the platform levels forms a new green wall.
“The plaza design aims to embrace the spirit of ‘The Drive’ as it seeks a contemporary form of urban public space that can add to the experience of such a memorable urban district. The plaza infrastructure invites social connections through extensive seating and gathering opportunities,” reads the design rationale, emphasizing the concept of placemaking.
“The creation of the new public plaza and public spaces creates both opportunities for positive change and immediate challenges in respect to a balance of street life vibrancy and public safety.”
The potential holds for an east-west mid-block pedestrian connection from the core of the public plaza that penetrates through the station concourse and reaches Commercial Drive.
Over 500 vehicle parking stalls will be located within the first three underground levels, including 223 for residents, 149 for Safeway, and 80 for non-residential uses other than the grocery store.
A fourth underground level will not have a vehicle ramp, as it will be entirely used for residential bicycle storage. A dedicated bicycle elevator will connect this underground level with East 10th Avenue’s bike lane.
The redevelopment will also implement changes to East 10th Avenue between Victoria Drive and Commercial Drive, as envisioned by the community plan. This entails turning the existing two-lane roadway for vehicles into a one-way westbound lane for vehicles to accommodate the space needed for a protected bidirectional bike lane on the south side of the street. A Mobi bike share station is located adjacent to the complex’s retail units that face the street.
The proposed design includes a new traffic signal at the intersection of East 10th Avenue and Victoria Drive. The proponents suggest this span of East 10th Avenue could become car-free in the future — made possible by the decision to place the parkade entrance and commercial loading docks at the northeast corner of the property, accessible from East Broadway where there will be a new mid-block traffic signal.
The proposal aims to generate 608,000 sq. ft. of total floor area, creating a floor space ratio density of 5.7 times the size of the lot.
The building footprint barely escapes a North Shore mountain view cone; the city’s View Cone 21 originating from the intersection of Commercial Drive and East 15th Avenue cuts through a portion of the public plaza.
If approved, the redevelopment’s construction activity will pump $690 million into the economy and create 2,800 direct and indirect construction jobs, including 700 on-site, full-time jobs. The project is expected to generate $32 million in new tax revenue and provide the city with over $16 million in development cost levies.
Provide your input on the proposal on the City of Vancouver’s public consultation website. A virtual open house will also be held between October 5 and 25.