City Council approves 14-storey tower next to Langara-49th Avenue Station

Oct 19 2021, 3:39 am

Vancouver City Council has approved what could be the tallest transit-oriented development in the immediate vicinity of SkyTrain’s Langara-49th Avenue Station.

In a public hearing last week, the rezoning application to turn 427-477 West 49th Avenue into a mixed-use redevelopment, with a 178-ft-tall, 14-storey tower, passed swiftly with no public speakers and almost no debate. Only TEAM councillor Colleen Hardwick voted against the project.

Now approved, the building by Transca Development and GBL Architects will replace four single-family dwellings immediately east of the subway station entrance building.

427-477 West 49th Avenue Vancouver

Site of 427-477 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver. (Transca Development/GBL Architects)

427-477 West 49th Avenue Vancouver

Site of 427-477 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver. (Transca Development/GBL Architects)

Green Party councillor Michael Wiebe questioned the proponents and city staff why the air space over the station entrance was not incorporated into the development for added residential density, similar to the Cambie Star building over King Edward Station. The architects did not provide a specific reason, but stated they considered how their building design transitioned with the entrance building owned by the provincial government.

But they explained why the building deviates from the city’s Cambie Corridor Plan (CCP) by including a single 10-storey tower over a four-storey podium.

The CCP prescribes a six-storey tower form over the western end of a four-storey podium, and a four-storey tower form over the eastern end of the same podium. However, a decision was made to transfer the four-storey tower form over to the western end’s six-storey form to allow for a significantly larger outdoor play area for the childcare facility on the rooftop of the podium.

The childcare facility on the fifth level has about 5,000 sq ft of indoor space for a capacity for 37 kids. This level also contains a 854-sq-ft indoor amenity space with a 2,000-sq-ft outdoor amenity area that looks over the Canada Line station entrance building.

427-477 West 49th Avenue Vancouver Langara Station

Artistic rendering of the project at 427-477 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver. (Transca Development/GBL Architects)

427-477 West 49th Avenue Vancouver Langara Station

Artistic rendering of the project at 427-477 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver. The tower at 478-496 West 48th Avenue by another developer is shown in the background. (Transca Development/GBL Architects)

427-477 West 49th Avenue Vancouver Langara Station

Artistic rendering of the project at 427-477 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver. (Transca Development/GBL Architects)

The residential levels in the tower and in the upper levels of the podium contain a total of 128 condominium homes, with a unit mix of 24 studios, 45 one-bedroom units, 45 two-bedroom units, and 14 three-bedroom units.

About 11,000 sq ft of retail and restaurant space on the ground level will activate the building’s frontage with West 49thAvenue, and mark the start of a new continuous retail strip on the north side of 49th Avenue from the station entrance all the way to Quebec Street. As prescribed by the CCP, this span of 49th Avenue is already seeing a number of other mixed-use developments that incorporate residential uses in the upper levels and commercial uses on the ground level.

The building is setback from its eastern property line to establish a mid-block pedestrian connection between West 49th Avenue and the laneway.

Three underground levels will provide 130 vehicle parking stalls and 268 bike parking spaces.

427-477 West 49th Avenue Vancouver Langara Station

Artistic rendering of the project at 427-477 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver. (Transca Development/GBL Architects)

427-477 West 49th Avenue Vancouver Langara Station

Artistic rendering of the project at 427-477 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver. (Transca Development/GBL Architects)

427-477 West 49th Avenue Vancouver Langara Station

Artistic rendering of the project at 427-477 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver. (Transca Development/GBL Architects)

The total floor area is 115,900 sq ft, creating a floor area ratio density that is a floor area 3.99 times larger than the size of the 29,000 sq ft lot.

With this added density through rezoning, the project will generate $14.6 million in public benefits for the municipal government, including $2.16 million in development cost levies, $229,000 in public art, $5.425 million from the value of the in-kind community amenity contribution (CAC) of constructing the city-owned childcare facility, and $5.825 million from a cash CAC.

In her closing comments, Hardwick suggested the city is too dependent on CAC revenue to cover its capital expenses for amenities and other public benefits.

“The level of rezoning that has been so persistent, which may be generating revenue for us in the form of CACs, is also leading to exponential land inflation in the city, and exacerbating the affordability problem. This is something we need to get a handle on,” said Hardwick.

427-477 West 49th Avenue Vancouver Langara Station

Artistic rendering of the project at 427-477 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver. The tower at 478-496 West 48th Avenue by another developer is shown on the left. (Transca Development/GBL Architects)

Cambie Corridor Plan

Cambie Corridor Plan for the area immediately around Langara-49th Avenue Station. (City of Vancouver)

427-477 West 49th Avenue Vancouver

Envisioned form for 427-477 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver, according to the Cambie Corridor Plan. (City of Vancouver)

Based on the CCP, the tallest permissible height around this station is 10 storeys, but only for the sites closest to the station at the intersection’s corners, and along Cambie Street north towards Oakridge Centre.

A 10-storey tower with 54 rental homes and ground-level retail is proposed for 478-496 West 48th Avenue — the vacant site immediately north of the station entrance.

At the northwest corner of the intersection, 6409-6487 Cambie Street, a recently revised application calls for a 10-storey building with added density from a taller podium, containing 48 condominium homes, almost 110,000 sq ft of office space, a childcare facility for 37 kids, and about 10,000 sq ft of ground-level retail and restaurant space. The office space component is quadrupled from the original proposal by converting four levels previously dedicated for condominiums.

A redevelopment of the nearby Langara Family YMCA complex with new and expanded community and recreational facilities could include an 11-storey affordable rental housing tower, and a 20-storey market housing tower.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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