Vancouver City Council approves two new buildings with 70 rental homes combined

Mar 2 2019, 1:32 am

Two new buildings in different areas of the city with 70 for-profit affordable rental homes combined were approved by Vancouver City Council earlier this week.

While the projects both received rezoning approval, the decision was not unanimous, with COPE councillor Jean Swanson and Green Party councillor Pete Fry voting against the separate rezonings.

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1918 West 4th Avenue

City Council approved the rezoning application by Rositch Hemphill Architects to turn the Salvation Army’s Kitsilano thrift store property at 1918 West 4th Avenue into a five-storey mixed-use building.

Location of the Kitsilano Salvation Army Thrift Store redevelopment. (Rositch Hemphill Architects)

Kitsilano Salvation Army Thrift Store

Artistic rendering of the Kitsilano Salvation Army Thrift Store redevelopment. (Rositch Hemphill Architects)

There will be 32 secured market rental units, including one studio unit, seven one-bedroom units, 18 two-bedroom units, and six three-bedroom units. On the ground level, four retail units totalling 4,746 sq. ft. are planned.

Two levels of underground parking will contain 43 stalls.

This project falls under the Rental 100 Secured Market Rental Housing Policy, with monthly rents starting at $1,646 for a studio, $1,903 for a one-bedroom unit, $2,756 for a two-bedroom unit, and $3,702 for a three-bedroom unit.

815-825 Commercial Drive

Over in the Eastside, the approved rezoning application for the site at 815-825 Commercial Drive and 1680 Adanac Street calls for a new six-storey, mixed-use building with 38 secured market rental housing units and three ground-floor retail units facing Commercial Drive, with a combined total of 3,800 sq. ft. of retail space.

Designed by Cornerstone Architecture, it will be built to Passive House environmental standards.

There will also be 23 underground parking stalls and 56 bicycle stalls.

Monthly rents will start at $1,496 for a studio, $1,730 for a one-bedroom unit, $2,505 for a two-bedroom unit, and $3,365 for a three-bedroom unit.

815-825 Commercial Drive and 1680 Adanac Street

The proposed site at 815-825 Commercial Drive and 1680 Adanac Street, Vancouver. (Cornerstone Architecture)

815-825 Commercial Drive and 1680 Adanac Street

Artistic rendering of 815-825 Commercial Drive and 1680 Adanac Street, Vancouver. (Cornerstone Architecture)

Approvals for both projects come at a time when City Council has been scrutinizing rental housing incentive programs for private developers — such as those provided under Rental 100 — and the city’s definition of ‘affordable’ rental rates.

Development cost levies were waived for these projects, amounting to $795,683 for 1680 Adanac Street and $644,402 for 815-825 Commercial Drive.

While the allowable rental rates have recently gained much criticism for being unaffordable for lower-income residents, such developments with units with these rates are meant for middle-class income earners, including dual income earners.

For-profit rental housing incentives under Rental 100 also offer parking requirement reductions, allowance for smaller units, additional density beyond what is permitted under existing zoning, and expedited processing for projects requiring a rezoning.

Since 2017, over 1,800 rental units have been approved under Rental 100, with supporters of the policy stating these same units would have been built as market ownership units without the incentives to build rental housing.

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