146 units of social housing proposed for corner of Renfrew and Venables streets

Apr 6 2020, 5:21 pm

Brightside Community Homes Foundation is looking to replace and expand its Alice Saunders House social housing complex in East Vancouver’s Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood.

A rezoning application has been submitted to the municipal government for the site at 2924 Venables Street — the southeast corner of the intersection of Renfrew Street and Venables Street, just across the street from Notre Dame Regional Secondary School.

The existing three-storey, woodframe building constructed in 1977 is now in need of replacement. It currently contains 64 units for seniors.

2924 Venables Street Vancouver Alice Saunders House

Site of the new Alice Saunders House at 2924 Venables Street, Vancouver. (Ryder Architecture / Brightside Community Homes Foundation)

2924 Venables Street Vancouver Alice Saunders House

Site of the new Alice Saunders House at 2924 Venables Street, Vancouver. (Ryder Architecture / Brightside Community Homes Foundation)

Through redevelopment, two new 68-ft-tall, six-storey buildings will be constructed on the site, with a combined total of 146 homes for seniors — a net gain of 82 social housing units over the existing building.

The unit mix is 37 studios, 89 one-bedroom units, 10 two-bedroom units, and 10 three-bedroom units, including accessible suites for residents with mobility challenges.

“As truly affordable housing, this project represents public benefits in that it creates opportunities for residents, particularly the increasing population of seniors living in the neighbourhood, to remain in the area and age in place,” reads the application, which notes that about 1,500 seniors are currently on the social housing wait list in Vancouver. The application will be considered under the city’s Hastings-Sunrise Community Vision.

2924 Venables Street Vancouver Alice Saunders House

Artistic rendering of the new Alice Saunders House at 2924 Venables Street, Vancouver. (Ryder Architecture / Brightside Community Homes Foundation)

2924 Venables Street Vancouver Alice Saunders House

Artistic rendering of the new Alice Saunders House at 2924 Venables Street, Vancouver. (Ryder Architecture / Brightside Community Homes Foundation)

The pair of buildings will form a south-facing central courtyard, providing outdoor common areas for residents, urban agriculture opportunities, and family play space. Both buildings will also contain indoor amenity spaces, as well as common laundry and kitchen spaces.

According to the design rationale by Ryder Architecture, the proposal’s exterior facade is inspired by the simplicity of the so-called Vancouver Specials that are commonly found in the neighbourhood.

2924 Venables Street Vancouver Alice Saunders House

Artistic rendering of the new Alice Saunders House at 2924 Venables Street, Vancouver. (Ryder Architecture / Brightside Community Homes Foundation)

2924 Venables Street Vancouver Alice Saunders House

Artistic rendering of the new Alice Saunders House at 2924 Venables Street, Vancouver. (Ryder Architecture / Brightside Community Homes Foundation)

“To relate to the evolving contextual surroundings, the design composition employs subtle variations of materials and textures to reduce visual mass and scale. Heavier colours and textures anchor the lower two floors of the buildings, while lighter colours are employed on the upper four floors. These are accented with textured or glossy materials along with angled or canted panels to add further brightness or hints of subtle shadowing,” reads the design rationale.

“The ground floor entries and amenity areas are highlighted by a contrasting material that conveys warm and texture in the key areas of resident interaction, and provides focal points to the site and buildings. This warm material surrounds and shelters these areas, providing some cover for active areas.”

2924 Venables Street Vancouver Alice Saunders House

Artistic rendering of the new Alice Saunders House at 2924 Venables Street, Vancouver. (Ryder Architecture / Brightside Community Homes Foundation)

The redevelopment is aiming for a Passive House green building certification, and it calls for improvements to the site’s public realm facing the streets.

“The project is predicated on creation of affordable housing that is focused on livability, is warm and inviting, sensitive to the context, cost-effective to construct and maintain, and is highly energy efficient,” continues the application.

A single underground level contains 36 vehicle parking stalls and 232 bike parking spaces.

The project entails 107,822 sq. ft. of total floor area, creating a floor space ratio density of 2.06 times the size of the 48,300-sq-ft lot.

2924 Venables Street Vancouver Alice Saunders House

Site of the new Alice Saunders House at 2924 Venables Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)