Tower proposal for Brickhouse site in Vancouver's Chinatown to be downsized

Sep 6 2019, 8:47 am

The proposal to redevelop the prominent northeast corner of the intersection of Main Street and Union Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown district with a mixed-use tower will be shortened in height.

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An agenda item in next week’s meeting of the City of Vancouver’s Chinatown Historic Planning Committee indicates the municipal government is considering a revised rezoning application from Bonnis Development Corporation for the property at 728-796 Main Street.

Previous 2017 artistic rendering of the proposed development at 728-796 Main Street in Chinatown. (Studio One Architecture)

The 2017-submitted application proposed a 150-ft-tall, 15-storey tower, but the rezoning resubmission in the agenda indicates the height of the proposal has been reduced to 114 ft with 11 storeys.

Plans for retail and restaurants on the ground level, as well as 19 units of social housing, have not changed. However, there has been a reduction in the number of market residential units — from 99 units in the previous design to 73 units in the revised design.

No visualizations and further details of the revised design are available at this time.

But the agenda mentions an inclusion of some of the character and heritage facade of The Brickhouse dive bar on the site.

Under the original design, the idea was to recycle the bricks of The Brickhouse structure, built in the early 1900s, by incorporating their use into the new building.

Previous 2017 artistic rendering of the proposed development at 728-796 Main Street in Chinatown. (Studio One Architecture)

Previous 2017 artistic rendering of the proposed development at 728-796 Main Street in Chinatown. (Studio One Architecture)

The revised design follows a July 2018 decision by city council to cancel the 2011-enacted policies allowing for greater densities and heights in Chinatown, originally implemented in an effort to help revitalize the area.

City council’s decisions against 105 Keefer Street’s rezoning in 2017 and the subsequent wider changes to what is permissible in Chinatown were in response to activist and community concerns over height and perceived gentrification resulting from such developments.

At the time, city staff said the proposed redevelopment of The Brickhouse site was the one and only proposal exempt from city council’s revised policies for Chinatown, as the application was mid-stream in city’s review process. City staff said they would continue to consider the design under the previous 2011 regulations.

The exact reason for the revised, shorter design is unclear at this early stage of the resubmission.

Previous 2017 artistic rendering of the proposed development at 728-796 Main Street in Chinatown. (Studio One Architecture)

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