A new social housing building dedicated to women is proposed for a site near SkyTrain’s Broadway-City Hall Station in Vancouver.
Non-profit organization Soroptimist International Vancouver and Purpose Driven Development have submitted a rezoning application to the municipal government to redevelop the existing Soroptimist Apartment House (SAH) at 546 West 13th Avenue — near the southwest corner of Cambie Street and West 13th Avenue — into a new 133-ft-tall, 13-storey building.
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The site is an eight-minute walk from the transit hub and within very close proximity to City Square shopping mall, Vancouver City Hall, and the Vancouver General Hospital campus.
Currently, the property is occupied by the 1960-built, two-storey SAH with 21 units. The organization first began as a hostel in 1932 and is the first Soroptimist Club in North America to open housing for low-income senior women.
The redevelopment calls for a total of 135 units of long-term social housing for single mothers and their children, women in the workforce, and senior women. The unit mix is 50 studios, 38 one-bedroom units, 35 two-bedroom units, and 12 three-bedroom units.
“As a result of the over-representation of women in low-wage work, women commonly must choose between paying rent or putting food on the table. Mounting evidence shows that women with low incomes have acute housing needs, are at greater risk of living in unsafe and unhealthy environments, and require access to stable and affordable housing,” reads the application.
“Since these populations are at a higher risk of being under-housed, an increase of safe, appropriate homes offered at a range of rents will expand equity for women and reduce barriers to accessing housing in our city.”
Residents will have access to extensive outdoor amenity spaces on the ground level facing the laneway and on the 13th floor, which is adjacent to 1,500-sq-ft indoor amenity space.
Designed by GBL Architects, the tower’s design is a simple building form with its architectural concept defined by undulating horizontal ribbons that form the balconies to the residential units.
“The architectural expression is fluid and provides interest as the eye travels up the building. It is a dynamic expression that will stand in contrast to the older cubic, highly regimented towers in the neighbourhood,” reads the architect’s design rationale. The tower is topped off by a green roof.
It should be noted that the tower height reaches the maximum ceiling of what is allowable by the municipal government’s mountain view height restrictions emanating from the Queen Elizabeth Park view cone. A floor plate size of over 7,300 sq. ft. is proposed to “maximize the amount of critically needed affordable housing units provided on the site.”
Two underground levels will hold 47 vehicle parking stalls and 250 bike parking spaces. The vehicle parking capacity amounts to a 20% reduction given the location’s high level of accessibility to public transit.
The total floor area is 93,263 sq. ft., creating a floor space ratio density of six times the size of the 14,520 sq. ft. lot.
This project is jointly funded by BC Housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and Vancity Community Foundation.