28-storey condo tower planned for River District in Vancouver

Jan 6 2022, 2:42 am

Another phase of the River District neighbourhood redevelopment is taking its next steps, with local developer Wesgroup Properties recently filing a development permit application with the City of Vancouver.

The development site is at 3480 East Kent Avenue South, near the geographic centre of the Easter Fraser Lands.

The application calls for a 38-storey tower and two seven-storey attached podiums with 314 condominium homes, carrying a unit mix of 31 studio units, 140 one-bedroom units, 96 two-bedroom units, and 28 three-bedroom units, along with eight “garden units,” six penthouse units, and five townhouse units.

With a height of 300 ft, it would be amongst River District’s tallest towers.

3480 East Kent Avenue South Vancouver River District

Artistic rendering of 3480 East Kent Avenue South in River District at the East Fraser Lands, Vancouver. (Boniface Oleksiuk Politano Architects/Wesgroup Properties)

3480 East Kent Avenue South Vancouver River District

Artistic rendering of 3480 East Kent Avenue South in River District at the East Fraser Lands, Vancouver. (Boniface Oleksiuk Politano Architects/Wesgroup Properties)

3480 East Kent Avenue South Vancouver River District

Artistic rendering of 3480 East Kent Avenue South in River District at the East Fraser Lands, Vancouver. (Boniface Oleksiuk Politano Architects/Wesgroup Properties)

The building will also have about 9,600 sq ft of retail and restaurant space on the ground level.

Five underground levels will contain 468 vehicle parking stalls and over 600 secured bike parking spaces.

The total floor area is 286,000 sq ft, creating a floor area ratio density of a floor area that is 5.62 times larger than the size of the 51,000 sq ft lot. The design firm is Boniface Oleksiuk Politano Architects.

3480 East Kent Avenue South Vancouver River District

Artistic rendering of 3480 East Kent Avenue South in River District at the East Fraser Lands, Vancouver. (Boniface Oleksiuk Politano Architects/Wesgroup Properties)

3480 East Kent Avenue South Vancouver River District

Artistic rendering of 3480 East Kent Avenue South in River District at the East Fraser Lands, Vancouver. (Boniface Oleksiuk Politano Architects/Wesgroup Properties)

3480 East Kent Avenue South Vancouver River District

Artistic rendering of 3480 East Kent Avenue South in River District at the East Fraser Lands, Vancouver. (Boniface Oleksiuk Politano Architects/Wesgroup Properties)

3480 East Kent Avenue South Vancouver River District

Artistic rendering of 3480 East Kent Avenue South in River District at the East Fraser Lands, Vancouver. (Boniface Oleksiuk Politano Architects/Wesgroup Properties)

This development permit application is made possible after Vancouver City Council’s April 2021 approval of a major revision to the East Fraser Lands Official Community Plan (OCP), which was first approved 15 years ago by Vancouver City Council to regulate how Wesgroup would grow River District.

The revisions to the master plan for the 128-acre former industrial site allow 1.55 million sq ft of additional residential space within the southeastern quadrant of the site, accomplished through new additional high-rise towers and added height to existing planned towers.

The changes to the additional residential floor area create about 1,850 extra homes, including 350 units of social housing, 500 units of secured market rental housing, and 1,000 condominium units.

This extra density, largely for market residential uses, is deemed necessary to cover the substantial cost escalation for the developer’s promised public amenities in the financial package, approved in 2010.

Original OCP:

river district east fraser lands

2006 ODP for Area 1 and Area 3 of River District (East Fraser Lands). (City of Vancouver)

2021 approved revised OCP:

river district east fraser lands

2021 approved changes to Area 1 and Area 3 of River District (East Fraser Lands). (City of Vancouver)

The public amenities package for the new neighbourhood were originally budgeted at $108 million, but it is now estimated at $234 million, including $67 million from the cost escalation of the original OCP amenities, $38 million in additional amenities to support the aforementioned increase in density, and $21 million in added utilities costs to enhance drainage from the downstream flow of water into the neighbourhood.

A new 30,000 sq ft community centre on the central riverfront, one of the largest public amenities planned in the existing ODP, is seeing a $15-million funding shortfall on its $35-million construction budget.

In exchange for the new market residential density, the developer will be required to provide 20 additional childcare spaces, two acres of additional park space, a new park fieldhouse, further transportation improvements, and set aside 20% of the additional residential units for social housing, which will be completed in partnership with the federal and provincial governments.

A new public library and fire station are also amongst the added public amenities, but they will require additional municipal funding to fulfill.

The additional market residential density will also partially cover the funding shortfall for the existing public benefits, with Wesgroup contributing an extra $18.5 million in cash community amenity contributions (CACs) to the city.

As well, the municipal government is considering forgoing the utilities development cost levy (UCDL) of $45 million for future phases of River District. Instead, Wesgroup will cover 87% of the UCDL value on an in-kind basis — worth about $39 million in value — including the in-kind completion of the community centre and utilities upgrades.

Under the original OCP, River District’s public benefits requirements entail 25 acres of public parks, open spaces, and waterfront areas, as well as the community centre, four childcare facilities with a combined capacity for 256 kids, after-school care spaces for 140 kids, the provision of two sites for future public schools funded by the provincial government, and parcels of land to accommodate 20% of the units for affordable housing.

As of May 2019, the municipal government has received $5.4 million in CACs and $33 million in DCLs from Wesgroup.

Roughly 1,000 affordable homes are already underway in River District, including 337 units set to begin construction in early 2022.

It is estimated that over 3,500 people are currently residing in River District, accounting for over a quarter of the original OCP’s eventual build out of 12,500 residents within roughly eight million sq ft of residential floor space. River District also has about 250,000 sq ft of neighbourhood-serving retail and restaurant space, including a Save-On-Foods grocery store.

By 2025, the neighbourhood will reach 50% completion, and it will take another 20 years to 25 years to reach 100%.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

+ Architecture & Design
+ Development
+ Urbanized
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