With just one month to go before the City of Vancouver’s Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP) ends, the developer behind the proposed redevelopment of the former West Broadway Denny’s restaurant site has just submitted a formal rezoning application for a more ambitious rental housing proposal.
The overall revised concept for the project at 2538 Birch Street — the southwest corner of the intersection of West Broadway and Birch Street — was first unveiled to the public by Jameson Development Group during a pre-application open house last November, and the recently submitted rezoning submission provides details of the refined specifications and architectural detailing.
Designed by IBI Group, the proposal calls for a 274-ft-tall, 28-storey tower with 248 secured rental homes, including 53 units designated under the MIRHPP, which sets rents at significantly reduced levels.
The MIRHPP policy requires at least 20% of the rental housing floor area be set aside for moderate income households, defined as those earning between $30,000 and $80,000 per year.
The unit mix is 30 studio units, 121 one-bedroom units, 70 two-bedroom units, and 27 three-bedroom units. Nearly half of the MIRHPP units will be sized for families, with two or three bedrooms.
The lower three floors will be used as commercial space, including 11,326 sq. ft. of retail — up to five ground-level retail units — and 16,212 sq. ft. of office. Overall, the total floor area on the 18,762 sq. ft. lot is about 200,000 sq. ft., giving the project a floor space ratio (FSR) density of 10.5 times the size of the property.
This is significantly larger than the project’s previously approved rezoning, calling for a 17-storey tower with 158 market rental homes for a total floor area of 133,000 sq. ft. (7.1 FSR), but the proponents have redesigned the tower given the greater certainty of the Millennium Line’s Broadway Extension and the property’s close proximity to the new SkyTrain — just one block west of the future station at Granville Street — and the heightened market demand for affordable rental housing.
With the vertical addition, if approved, this would be the second tallest building on the Central Broadway Corridor — just behind Vancouver General Hospital’s 295-ft-tall Jim Pattison Pavilion and ahead of The Independent At Main‘s tower height of 210 ft.
“Because of the site’s proximity and connection to most major transit routes in Vancouver, it is an ideal location to provide secured market rental housing and moderate income rental housing,” reads the application.
As for the new architectural design, the application describes a tower comprised of three brick colours: dark gray, bone white, and red clay.
“The location of the brick colours are intended to further break up the massing into different volumes in the tower. The colour scheme also provides a neutral palette that will accentuate the public art,” states the architects.
“The brick walls are uninterrupted as they go up, to emphasize a tall and slender expression, with the window wall in between the brick walls recessed with dark gray frames and metal panel. These vertical brick walls terminate with planters, providing greenery at the building’s edges that can be seen from the street. Furthermore, the brick walls provide the high energy efficiency required to meet the City’s Zero Emissions Building Plan.”
The form of the tower also steps back and down at various levels to reduce overall massing, minimize shadowing, and create communal amenity and private roof terraces. This includes a level four roof terrace for urban agricultural plots, and a level 28 rooftop space for a children’s play area, gathering area, and an adjacent indoor amenity space.
As well, the tower’s corner with the West Broadway intersection will be used as a canvas for a public art tile mosaic by Musqueam First Nation artist Debra Sparrow. This public art piece will start at a corner public plaza space and rise to level 17.
Five underground levels will accommodate 187 vehicle parking stalls.