The second of three taller tower sites adjacent to SkyTrain’s Joyce-Collingwood Station will proceed, after Vancouver City Council’s approval of the rezoning application for 5055 Joyce Street on Tuesday evening.
City council green lighted Westbank’s transit-oriented proposal for a 315-ft-tall, 36-storey tower with 360 secured rental homes replacing the YMCA at the northwest corner of the intersection of Joyce Street and Vanness Avenue. YMCA previously sold the property to the developer for $55 million to help fund its ambitious facility renovation and expansion projects across the region.
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This proposal, designed by Perkins & Will, was previously slated as a 305-ft-tall, 32-storey tower with 298 condominium homes, but revised to 100% rentals earlier this year.
The unit mix as a rental tower is 15 studio units, 217 one-bedroom units, 93 two-bedroom units, and 35 three-bedroom units. A single floor of units will be rented at below-market rental housing at 20% below the average Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation rents for the neighbourhood.
The rezoning passed in a 9-2 vote, with COPE councillor Jean Swanson and NPA councillor Colleen Hardwick opposed on the basis of the benefits generated, specifically the amount of below-market housing and the financial contributions to the city.
The project will generate $7.2 million in development cost levies to the city and a $510,000 public art contribution.
“I’m with Jean on this one… looking at the numbers here does not compute for the benefit that is accruing for the developer,” said Hardwick.
But other members of council welcomed the development and acknowledged the below-market rental housing units were not required of the developer, and that the project’s conversion from condominiums to rentals alone is an immense benefit.
“Imagine moving from a strata building to a secured rental building with 10 below-market secured units through negotiation rather than a strict policy,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “I think it’s a great accomplishment, and I want to thank the applicant for breaking new ground here.”
NPA councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung stated: “Regardless of changes in the market and the pandemic, we do know that we have had a pent-up demand and a shortage of rental housing.”
NPA councillor Melissa De Genova made similar remarks: “I think building rental not only helps us with our affordability and helps us meet our goals for affordable housing in the city… It’s concerning to me we don’t really sometimes celebrate the benefits.”
Construction activity for the redevelopment will create about 1,260 on-site and off-site jobs.
However, there was a unanimous vote of approval for the amendment proposed by NPA councillor Lisa Dominato, asking staff and the applicant to explore opportunities to celebrate the LGBTQ community in the design of the public realm or near the site. This was suggested as a potential rainbow crosswalk for the new traffic signal-controlled pedestrian crossing across Joyce Street from the development’s new southern public plaza.
The new public spaces on the ground level are activated by 4,523 sq. ft. of retail that wraps around the building’s eastern- and southern-facing ground level frontages.
The original proposal called for six underground levels with 197 vehicle parking stalls and 533 bike parking spaces. The revised application is drastically different in this regard, with four underground levels accommodating 103 vehicle parking stalls and 727 bike parking spaces.
The density is now slightly higher at 255,458 sq. ft. for a floor space ratio (FSR) of 15.97 times the size of the lot — up from 248,535 sq. ft. with 15.5 FSR.
As for the tower’s architectural concept, the revised design remains true to the original application, with an industrious appearance from the distinct bronze colour and an exterior structural system of scaffolding-like private patios that, along with planters, provide the tower’s facades with a distinct rhythm.
This is Westbank’s second project in the area after its under-construction Joyce tower across the street at 5050 Joyce Street — a 29-storey tower with 256 condominiums. It is scheduled for completion in early 2021.