Cemetery proposing 30-storey rental housing tower in New Westminster

Feb 7 2022, 10:15 pm

The non-profit organization that operates and maintains a 93-year-old cemetery — located one city block west of SkyTrain’s 22nd Street Station — in New Westminster is looking to build a significant rental housing tower.

The City of New Westminster is in the early stages of considering a proposal by Schara Tzedeck Cemetery to redevelop the vacant site at 2342-2346 Marine Drive into a 300-ft-tall, 30-storey tower.

The property for development is immediately south of the cemetery and near the north end of the Queensborough Bridge. The property is also right on New Westminster’s western border with Burnaby.

2342-2346 Marine Drive New Westminster Schara Tzedeck Cemetery

Site of 2342-2346 Marine Drive, New Westminster. (Google Maps)

2342-2346 Marine Drive New Westminster Schara Tzedeck Cemetery

Site of 2342-2346 Marine Drive, New Westminster. (Google Maps)

To generate an ongoing source of revenue for the not-for-profit Jewish organization, the cemetery is looking to build 230 rental homes, driven by the inclusion of 185 market rental homes.

Although this is primarily about generating revenue, there would still be a sizeable non-market component, with 10% of the market rental homes set at rents slightly under market rates, plus another 45 units set at deeper below-market rents.

On the second level, about 4,600 sq ft will be set aside for community uses available at a subsidized hourly rate, such as for a place of worship, a community meeting, and arts and cultural classes.

2342-2346 Marine Drive New Westminster Schara Tzedeck Cemetery

Artistic rendering of 2342-2346 Marine Drive, New Westminster. (Collabor8 Architecture and Design/Schara Tzedeck Cemetery)

2342-2346 Marine Drive New Westminster Schara Tzedeck Cemetery

Artistic rendering of 2342-2346 Marine Drive, New Westminster. (Collabor8 Architecture and Design/Schara Tzedeck Cemetery)

Additionally, on the ground level of the tower, the cemetery is proposing a 3,200 sq ft for-profit childcare facility with space for 44 kids, supported by a 3,000 sq ft of outdoor play area. There would also be a 2,100 sq ft market rate retail unit.

The proposed total floor area is 205,000 sq ft for a floor area ratio density of a floor area that is 8.7 times larger than the size of the lot. Six underground levels will contain 246 vehicle parking stalls and 290 secure bike parking spaces. The project’s design firm is Collabor8 Architecture and Design.

2342-2346 Marine Drive New Westminster Schara Tzedeck Cemetery

Artistic rendering of 2342-2346 Marine Drive, New Westminster. (Collabor8 Architecture and Design/Schara Tzedeck Cemetery)

While the project aligns with the City of New Westminster’s affordable housing strategies, there are some concerns that the proposal comes ahead of the municipality’s 22nd Street Area Bold Vision planning process of turning the neighbourhood around the SkyTrain station into a higher-density, mixed-use area that has a lower dependency on private vehicle usage.

“Proceeding in advance of the 22nd Street Station area visioning and implementation is likely to put additional cost burdens and risks on the applicant, such as bearing all costs related to adequately servicing to the site and undertaking transportation network studies. It would also likely limit opportunities for the application to participate in potential neighbourhood-wide climate action and sustainable transportation ‘big moves’ identified through this planning process,” reads a city staff report.

“It is recommended that staff engage with the applicant to integrate their site into the 22nd Street Area Bold Vision process to address cost burdens and risks and to align a proposal with ‘big moves’ developed through this process. This has been discussed with the applicant who has expressed general interest.”

About 5,000 people are buried at the cemetery, which is one of BC’s oldest places for burial.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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