Another proposal for a new market rental housing project in Vancouver is up in the air over issues of height and the perceived unaffordability of the units.
Some of the opposing sentiments against Strand Development and Integra Architecture’s proposal for 3833 Fraser Street — a city block site currently occupied by about a half dozen properties, including several single-family homes and one business — were expressed by federal NDP MP Don Davies for the riding of Vancouver-Kingsway, which is where the development site falls under.
According to the rezoning application, the project calls for 71-ft-tall, six-storey, mixed-use building with 121 market rental homes, with the unit mix comprised of 10 studio units, 60 one-bedroom units (including two townhouse units), 35 two-bedroom units, and 16 three/four-bedroom units.
There will also be 10,800 sq. ft. of retail space on the ground level and two levels of underground parking with 108 vehicle parking stalls.
During the project’s public hearing on Tuesday, Davies told Vancouver city council he recently helped form the Fraser Street Neighbourhood Coalition, a neighbourhood activist group, in response to the growing number of redevelopment projects along the Fraser Street corridor.
Based on his engagement with his constituents, he says, there is a neighbourhood consensus that the project is too tall and does not provide housing for the community’s low-to-moderate income households.
“We are talking about creating a tunnel of six to seven storey buildings on both sides of the street, way too high, out of scope with the neighbourhood, and even more hulking on the neighbourhood sides it slopes away at 100% market rent,” he said.
“It is too high, too large, and in the wrong place… It does not contain one single unit of affordable housing for community members.”
Davies says the development should ideally be a four- or five-storey project, with at least some units of affordable rental housing, and the developer paying community amenity contributions that directly benefit the neighbourhood.
He is also concerned that the retail space will be at market prices that are unaffordable for independent businesses.
“It ignores the existing community plan, prejudges the citywide plan… [and] this is premature and violates all notions of community input and sound planning,” he continued.
According to Davies, his constituents want gentle densification and support the full spectrum of housing, adding that “what we are not is NIMBY, anti-development, or anti-market.”
His activist group was founded in response to the growing land assembly of the area’s arterial corridors for redevelopment potential. He says there are currently 11 development projects in the work along the Fraser Street corridor, with most of the buildings between six and storeys in height and for market housing with ground-level market retail.
“We are for development along the Fraser Street corridor, but we want thoughtful, comprehensive development. Not one-off spot zoning,” he said.
City council is scheduled to continue with the proposal’s public hearing tonight.