A unique mixed-use redevelopment that caters to Vancouver’s artist community is proposed for a site just west of SkyTrain’s future Great Northern Way Station as a result of the Broadway Extension.
Local developer The Cape Group has submitted a development application for 338 East 2nd Avenue — near the southeast corner of the intersection of Scotia Street and East 2nd Avenue, and about a one-minute walk from the future subway station entrance.
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The site is currently occupied by a 1968-built, three-storey wholesale building — the former location of the longtime Ralph’s Recycled Auto Parts. The property changed hands in March 2019 in a deal worth $18.2 million.
According to the application by Human Studio Architecture and Urban Design, The Raphael, the name of the new five-storey building, will contain 95 rental homes, with a unit mix of 39 artist studios, 15 two-bedroom artist studios, and 41 regular studios.
Everything about the development is designed with the practical and flexible living and workspace needs of artists in mind.
About 100 sq ft of dedicated area within artist units is designed with the space needed to create art. As well, there are oversized sinks, electrical outlets, and an allowance for an increased floor weight load.
There are several amenities for residents, including a shared amenity space on the second level that opens up to an internal outdoor amenity courtyard on the rooftop of the ground level, and secured storage space on each residential level. These storage spaces allow artists to store their supplies outside their small living spaces, replacing the storage spaces typically found in underground levels and effectively reducing long trips.
Additionally, to make the movement of larger pieces of art easier, the hallways are wider at five ft, and the elevators and doors to the residential units are oversized.
On the ground level at the main entrance, there will be an artist gallery and multi-purpose workshop space. This level will also have 10,000 sq ft of commercial space, used as a wholesale space to replace the existing building’s wholesale uses.
The residential levels of the building will be built using the mass timber construction method.
“In addition to the project’s contribution to affordable housing in the City of Vancouver, we are lowering the building’s carbon footprint by using a mass timber structural system and reaffirming the project team’s commitment to build with a renewable building material,” reads the application.
The development is also strategically located in Mount Pleasant, where there is a strong arts community. In particular, it is near Emily Carr University of Art + Design campus, the Centre for Digital Media, and the city’s future arts and cultural district within the western portion of the False Creek Flats.
“With an already broad development mandate, the project extends its contribution by respecting the existing industrial nature of local area by providing industrial/wholesale rental space at grade that is critical to keeping the City of Vancouver a functional working city,” continues the application.
“This project builds on the existing community of artist studios already established in the area by providing dedicated art space within the building, and artist units that are sized and designed to accommodate work within the suites.”
Two levels of underground parking will accommodate 95 vehicle parking stalls and 149 bike parking spaces. Recognizing the building’s uses by artists and the area’s home to the Vancouver Mural Festival, the building’s laneway frontage will feature a mural.
The total floor area is 66,000 sq ft, giving the project a floor space ratio density of 3.25 times the size of its 20,200-sq-ft lot.