Revised Balfour Block proposal in Vancouver sees fewer homes

Sep 14 2021, 4:35 pm

Fewer homes are now proposed for the redevelopment of the Balfour Block in Vancouver’s Fairview neighbourhood.

A revised rezoning application for the 2.3-acre, city block-sized site at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 907-969 West 19th Avenue by local developer Wesgroup calls for a six-storey rental building, a six-storey condominium building with a rooftop amenity and a ground-level childcare facility, and seven three-to-four-storey townhome buildings.

There will now be 208 homes — a drop from the 241 homes previously proposed, with the reduction largely coming from reducing the number of townhomes.

The revised proposal calls for 58 townhomes, 51 condominium homes, and 99 secured rental homes, with 25% set aside for below-market rates and the remaining 75% as market rates. The previous proposal called for 100% market rates for the rental housing component.

906-982 West 18th Avenue 906-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver Balfour Block

Site of the Balfour Block redevelopment at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 906-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

Previous proposal:

906-982 West 18th Avenue 906-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver Balfour Block

Artistic rendering of the Balfour Block redevelopment at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 906-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

Revised proposal:

Balfour Block 906-982 West 18th Avenue 907-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver

August 2021 revised proposal for Balfour Block at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 907-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

Balfour Block 906-982 West 18th Avenue 907-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver

August 2021 revised proposal for Balfour Block at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 907-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

The total floor area has been reduced to 205,000 sq ft from the previous proposal’s 220,000 sq ft. Accordingly, the floor area ratio (FAR) density has dropped to a floor area that is 1.89 times the size of the lot from 2.16 FAR. The childcare facility component is about 4,600 sq ft, large enough for 37 children.

Formwerks Architecture’s design for the project previously carried a faux European heritage character, but during consultation earlier this year, it received criticism for being “very uniform and institutional,” and a mismatch with the “rich variety in the neighbourhood, with a wonderful palette of eclectic character and a lot of greenery and garden.”

Previous design:

906-982 West 18th Avenue 906-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver Balfour Block

Artistic rendering of the Balfour Block redevelopment at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 906-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

Revised design:

Balfour Block 906-982 West 18th Avenue 907-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver

August 2021 revised proposal for Balfour Block at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 907-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

Balfour Block 906-982 West 18th Avenue 907-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver

August 2021 revised proposal for Balfour Block at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 907-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

The architect’s revised design carries a West Coast and Scandinavian-inspired character, with changes to some of the forms of the buildings and the height of the townhouses. The tallest buildings remain at about 83 ft (25 m).

An extensive public realm composed of pedestrian pathways, open spaces, and a public park at the southeast corner of the site are proposed.

Balfour Block 906-982 West 18th Avenue 907-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver

August 2021 revised proposal for Balfour Block at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 907-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

Balfour Block 906-982 West 18th Avenue 907-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver

August 2021 revised proposal for Balfour Block at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 907-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

Balfour Block 906-982 West 18th Avenue 907-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver

August 2021 revised proposal for Balfour Block at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 907-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

If approved, the project would generate about $4.75 million in development cost levies to the city, and about $407,000 in public art contributions. In-kind contributions include $3.6 million for the childcare facility, and $200,000 for the construction value of the park.

To support the project, there would be a total of 255 vehicle parking stalls and 502 bike parking spaces in the underground levels. This is down from 334 vehicle parking stalls and 630 bike parking spaces in the original rezoning application.

Currently, the large property is occupied by two-storey duplex buildings built in the 1950s.

906-982 West 18th Avenue 906-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver Balfour Block

Site of the Balfour Block redevelopment at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 906-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

Balfour Block 906-982 West 18th Avenue 907-969 West 19th Avenue Vancouver

August 2021 revised proposal for Balfour Block at 906-982 West 18th Avenue and 907-969 West 19th Avenue, Vancouver. (Formwerks Architecture/Wesgroup Properties)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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