Public consultation underway on pivotal Broadway Commercial redevelopment

Nov 25 2021, 11:11 pm

The most pivotal transit-oriented development site in Metro Vancouver is the Safeway grocery store site immediately east of SkyTrain’s Commercial-Broadway Station transit hub.

Over the last five years, there have been a number of iterations of the redevelopment concept for this 2.4-acre site at 1780 East Broadway, with the most significant revision in 2020 turning this project’s residential uses from overwhelmingly condominiums to primarily rental housing.

Another iteration was made for Broadway Commercial in Fall 2021, when a newly revised rezoning application outlined a density decrease through height reductions and slimmer buildings, based on the feedback received in previous public consultations and from City of Vancouver staff.

A new round of public consultation is now underway for a downsized project that has 653 homes, including 345 market rental homes, 93 below-market rental homes, and 215 condominium homes. This is a reduction of 35 homes, with further decreases in the number of condominiums, and repurposing more market rental homes for below-market units, effectively doubling the number of affordable housing units.

With this new round of cuts in market residential density, the economics of the project has changed significantly. A 12,000 sq ft childcare facility was included in the previous iteration of the proposal, but with the changes in market residential uses, the floor area of the childcare facility would have to be exempt from the project’s overall floor area ratio density calculations. The proponents — property owner Crombie REIT and developer Westbank — have noted that city staff did not agree to this request, and as a result, a decision has been made to axe the childcare component.

1780 East Broadway Commercial Vancouver november 2021

2021 rezoning application artistic rendering for the Broadway Commercial redevelopment at 1780 East Broadway, Vancouver. (Perkins&Will/Westbank/Crombie REIT)

1780 East Broadway Commercial Vancouver november 2021

2021 rezoning application site plan for the Broadway Commercial redevelopment at 1780 East Broadway, Vancouver. (Perkins&Will/Westbank/Crombie REIT)

The podium contains relatively minor retail/restaurant, office, and fitness gym components, and a replacement Safeway spanning about 50,000 sq ft.

With the reduced heights of the three towers now ranging between 24 and 29 storeys above the complex’s podium retail plinth, this proposal with a 5.7 FAR density is unquestionably very modest compared to the transit-oriented developments adjacent to other SkyTrain stations elsewhere in the region — even stations that see far fewer riders than Commercial-Broadway Station.

Despite the constraints of the site, the project is still able to deliver added public benefits, especially a 20,000 sq ft public plaza on the western edge of the property — between the retail plinth and the Expo Line station.

The plaza’s design has been reconfigured and slightly expanded to make it both an everyday lingering destination and an event-friendly space. It also aligns with the city’s Grandview-Woodland Community Plan’s prescription for a major plaza space next to the transit hub, and the strategic location doubles as a mid-block pedestrian connection.

1780 East Broadway Commercial Vancouver november 2021

2021 rezoning application artistic rendering for the Broadway Commercial redevelopment at 1780 East Broadway, Vancouver. (Perkins&Will/Westbank/Crombie REIT)

1780 East Broadway Commercial Vancouver november 2021

2021 rezoning application artistic rendering for the Broadway Commercial redevelopment at 1780 East Broadway, Vancouver. (Perkins&Will/Westbank/Crombie REIT)

1780 East Broadway Commercial Vancouver november 2021

2021 rezoning application artistic rendering for the Broadway Commercial redevelopment at 1780 East Broadway, Vancouver. (Perkins&Will/Westbank/Crombie REIT)

“There is a wonderful weave of community, urban vitality, food, and nature centred around the new plaza and transit hub at Broadway and Commercial. The landscape is central to this complex weave. The hard infrastructure of the station is softened by a block-long sculptural timber lattice that supports the growth of climbing vines and flowering plants to transform the texture and atmosphere of the plaza space,” Marc Ryan, principal of PUBLIC WORK office for urban design and landscape architecture, told Daily Hive Urbanized.

“An open-air theatre and central gathering steps define the social and performance heart of the plaza and connect to the lush, green courtyard at the lobby-level of this vertical community.”

Additionally, major investments would be made towards achieving a new standard of green design, targeting zero carbon emissions for building operations.

The project would uniquely include thermal storage tanks — the largest of its kind in Canada. Similar to a battery, the storage tanks would absorb excess heat generated to cool the buildings during warmer weather conditions, and then release this “free heat” for use during colder weather, when heat demand is higher in the residential units. This allows for the use of smaller electric peaking boilers, rather than standard gas-fired “peaking boilers.”

Two thermal storage tanks placed along the complex’s 10th Avenue frontage will contain 1,500 cubic metres of water, making them highly visible to showcase the innovative element of the project.

1780 East Broadway Commercial Vancouver november 2021

2021 rezoning application artistic rendering for the Broadway Commercial redevelopment at 1780 East Broadway, Vancouver. (Perkins&Will/Westbank/Crombie REIT)

1780 East Broadway Commercial Vancouver november 2021

2021 rezoning application artistic rendering for the Broadway Commercial redevelopment at 1780 East Broadway, Vancouver. (Perkins&Will/Westbank/Crombie REIT)

Additional sustainability considerations include triple pane windows and a balcony design that reduces heat loss from the buildings, adding landscaped areas wherever possible including the courtyard on the rooftop of the podium, and reusing 95% of on-site stormwater runoff. The concept for extensive landscaping is based on the idea to “extend” the natural vegetation of the Grandview Cut up and into the development. Perkins&Will is the project’s architectural firm.

An online survey for the current public consultation on the design revisions is available on the City of Vancouver’s website until December 5, 2021.

September 2019 design:

1780 East Broadway Commercial Safeway Vancouver

September 2019 artistic rendering of 1780 East Broadway, Vancouver. (Crombie REIT/Westbank/Perkins&Will)

September 2020 design:

broadway commercial safeway redevelopment

September 2020 artistic rendering of the Broadway & Commercial Safeway redevelopment from East 10th Avenue. (Perkins + Will/Westbank/Crombie REIT)

Current November 2021 design:

1780 East Broadway Commercial Vancouver November 2021

November 2021 artistic rendering of the Broadway Commercial Safeway redevelopment at 1780 East Broadway, Vancouver. (Perkins&Will/Westbank/Crombie REIT)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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