A proposed mixed-use building on Commercial Drive in Vancouver uniquely combines social housing for elementary and secondary school teachers, and a community hub for teacher training.
The Vancouver Elementary and Secondary School Teachers Associations has submitted a rezoning application to redevelop its 1972-built, two-storey facility at 2929 Commercial Drive — the southwest corner of the intersection of Commercial Drive and East 13th Avenue, about a seven-minute walk from SkyTrain’s Commercial-Broadway Station.
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The organizations acquired the property in 1989, and converted what was at the time a bingo hall into office and meeting space for teacher training.
The proposal calls for a new 62-ft-tall, six-storey building with 1,500 sq. ft. of retail space on the ground level, and 5,700 sq. ft. of education and training space — classrooms and multi-purpose meeting rooms — and 3,400 sq. ft. of office space for the teaching associations on the second level.
The remaining levels totalling 22,000 sq. ft. will be social housing, creating a total of 27 units with a unit mix of 21 one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units. At least 30% of the units will be provided at BC Housing’s social housing income limits rates.
The application, designed by DYS Architecture, notes some revenue-generating retail space and market rental housing are needed to ensure the project is financially viable.
“The importance of affordable housing in Vancouver is at its peak. The City needs people to make Vancouver their home and to help build a thriving, sustainable future for themselves, their families, and their neighbours,” reads the application.
“This project seeks to provide priority housing for teachers hoping to be a part of the long-term growth of Vancouver.”
While the project would likely benefit from additional floors and density for more market rental housing for added financial support towards the project’s goals of creating expanded teaching space and more affordable rental housing for teachers, the development site is severely impacted by the municipal government’s height restrictions for a mountain view cone that looks north from the intersection of Commercial Drive and 15th Avenue — two blocks to the south.
As a result of the view cone, the sixth level of the building is only a pavilion-like structure partially covering the floor plate — irregularly shaped to abide to the view cone — for the use as an indoor amenity for residents. The remainder of the floor plate is an outdoor rooftop amenity space.
“The rezoning is required to provide additional height and make adjustments to the project’s setbacks. The additional height is needed in support of providing much needed housing for teachers new to the profession who struggle with the cost of living and working in Vancouver,” continues the application.
Due to the steep site, one-and-a-half parking levels will provide 25 vehicle parking stalls and 58 bike parking spaces.
The total floor area is 32,637 sq. ft., creating a floor space ratio density of 2.65 times the size of the 12,337-sq-ft lot.
This application falls under the city’s Kensington-Cedar Cottage Community Vision.