3 towers with 600 rental homes proposed next to Marine Drive Station in Vancouver

Jul 16 2019, 9:27 pm

An impressive amount of rental housing has been proposed for a site immediately adjacent to the Canada Line’s Marine Drive Station in South Vancouver, potentially cementing the area as one of the city’s most successful applications of transit-oriented development to date.

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Ashley-Mar Housing Co-operative has partnered with local developer Intracorp Homes to replace the co-op’s existing 54-unit townhome complex at 8495 Cambie Street with a major mixed-housing redevelopment that focuses on new rentals.

Site of the Ashley-Mar Housing Co-op development at 8495 Cambie Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

Site of the Ashley-Mar Housing Co-op development at 8495 Cambie Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

There would be 582 new units, including 125 non-market co-op units — a net gain in co-op units — and 475 purpose-built market rental units in three towers at 14 storeys, 24 storeys, and 27 storeys in height, with the shortest tower dedicated entirely to the co-op.

Existing co-cop tenants will move back into the complex when complete, and all of the co-op units will be at rates below market, with rates determined by income levels. A variety of rents will be as low as shelter rates.

A small commercial component of a 2,300-sq-ft ground-level retail unit is included. Altogether, the entire proposal calls for about 492,000 sq. ft. of total floor area.

In an interview with Daily Hive, Evan Allegretto, senior vice-president of development at Intracorp Homes said the co-op and his company have been working on this project for nearly 3.5 years. For the design work, they enlisted Perkins+Will Architects, which was behind the Marine Gateway mixed-use complex.

SkyTrain Canada Line Marine Drive Station Marine Gateway rental homes

Growing density around Marine Drive Station on SkyTrain’s Canada Line. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

The co-op made an earlier conclusion that their buildings were ageing and reaching the end of their lifespan, so they decided the best approach would be to explore redevelopment opportunities.

“They reached out to the development community and picked Intracorp because of its prior experience with non-profits,” he said. “We will deliver them a new building in exchange for some land to redevelop two towers, which are the rental buildings. And essentially the rental buildings fund the capital to pay for the co-op redevelopment at no cost to the co-op.”

He explains that additional mechanisms are also needed to provide supplementary funding cover the entire construction cost of the redevelopment, with Intracorp and many other developers building housing developments seeking financing from pension funds and other financial institutions.

“They are looking for guaranteed yields,” said Allegretto, adding that these investors are looking at their positive cash flow returns over a 40 to 60-year timeline.

“The yield over the cost needs to be enough for them to invest, because they can invest anywhere in the world. Municipalities generally need to provide enough density and incentives so that we are competitive on a global context. To make that work on this site, we are asking for a moderate increase in density so that we can get the yield at a high enough rate to attract investment to get the project going.”

Allegretto says the impact to the area is “very limited” as it is adjacent to industrial lands, and the community feedback to date has been largely positive.

Exterior of Marine Gateway and Marine Drive Station. (Marine Gateway / Perkins+Will Vancouver)

It significantly adds to the area’s growing transit-oriented development cluster that began with the Marine Gateway, and aligns with the city’s Cambie Corridor Plan.

“It is next to transit, and it should be a model of how the private development community can work with non-profit groups and co-ops in the future, where we can come together to create a project that meets as many city objectives as possible, like rental housing, below-market housing, renewal of old rental stock on a transit station, which is a really good density location,” he continued.

“We follow council and we support the councillors that are in power in Vancouver, and we really feel that this application is trying to speak to the councillors — that this is what they’re looking for.”

A formal rezoning application has been submitted, and the proponent team hopes to see this enter public hearing in a year to allow for a construction start in early 2021.

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