Five towers up to 30 storeys proposed for Oak Street and 41st Avenue corner in Vancouver

Apr 20 2023, 3:33 am

High-density residential development with as many as five high-rise towers is being eyed for the northwest corner of the intersection of West 41st Avenue and Oak Street.

The City of Vancouver is currently in the early stages of considering two separate proposals for the corner, where there are significant sites totalling over eight acres. However, the proposals are non-compliant with existing City policies as they call for significantly more height and density than what is prescribed in the Cambie Corridor Plan.

The two proposals are going through the municipal government’s Policy Enquiry Process stream, which was created by the previous City Council in July 2021 to provide elected officials, not City staff, with the final say on whether a formal rezoning application should be accepted for consideration and reviewed.

“Based on staff’s assessment of the two Policy Enquiry proposals, there is rationale for Council to consider the deviations for height and number of expected towers on each site from existing policy in order to advance Council’s priorities and objectives,” reads City staff’s report ahead of next week’s public meeting.

“However, given that the proposed departures from policy are significant, staff are seeking direction from Council before continuing to advise the applicant through the enhanced rezoning process.”

shawn oaks louis brier sites vancouver

The proposal sites of Louis Brier (orange) and Shawn Oaks (pink) at the northwest corner of the intersection of Oak Street and West 41st Avenue. (City of Vancouver)

The larger four-acre site at the corner with the address of 1055 West 41st Avenue and 5650 Osler Street is currently occupied by the 1967-built Louis Brier Home and Hospital.

While the Cambie Corridor Plan prescribes one tower up to 20 storeys, the Louis Brier site’s non-compliant proposal calls for a redevelopment of three towers reaching 20 storeys, 28 storeys, and 30 storeys — containing market rental homes, below-market rental homes, and condominium homes. There would also be a six-storey social housing building and an eight-storey replacement long-term care facility.

For the Louis Brier site, the Cambie Corridor Plan outlines the redevelopment options of strata housing with 20% social housing, or 100% secure rental housing with 20% of the residential floor area designated for below-market units.

The towers would be located on the east side closest to Oak Street, while the mid-rise buildings would be situated on the west side.

The long-term care facility would contain 150 beds — below the existing facility’s capacity of 215 beds. The beds in the new modern facility would be subsidized by Vancouver Coastal Health, where residents pay a monthly fee based on 80% of after-tax income.

Additionally, there would be ground-level commercial uses and a childcare or seniors facility.

1055 West 41st Avenue 5650 Osler Street Vancouver Louis Brier Home Hospital 2

Site of Louis Brier Home & Hospital at 1055 West 41st Avenue and 5650 Osler Street, Vancouver. (BC Assessment)

1055 West 41st Avenue 5650 Osler Street Vancouver Louis Brier Home Hospital 2

Site of Louis Brier Home & Hospital at 1055 West 41st Avenue and 5650 Osler Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

Immediately to the north, the other separate proposal, the smaller 3.2-acre Shawnoaks site of 5505-5585 Oak Street is currently occupied by 11 low-rise buildings constructed in 1969, containing a total of 72 strata homes.

The non-compliant proposal calls for the redevelopment of Shawnoaks into two towers reaching 28 storeys and 23 storeys, which exceeds the Cambie Corridor Plan’s prescription for one tower up to 16 storeys. It calls for a residential project with about 80% condominiums and 20% social housing — more specifically, a total of 180 units of social housing. This suggests the Shawnoaks proposal alone, not including the separate Louis Brier proposal to the south, could have about 1,000 homes.

According to the Cambie Corridor Plan, the residential redevelopment options for the Shawnoaks site are the same as the Louis Brier site — either a condominium/affordable housing combination or a market rental/below-market rental housing combination.

Commercial uses are not envisioned for Shawnoaks, but it calls for a childcare facility component, with City staff urging a larger facility than proposed.

5505-5585 Oak Street Vancouver Shawnoaks

Site of Shawnoaks at 5505-5585 Oak Street, Vancouver. (BC Assessment)

5505-5585 Oak Street Vancouver Shawnoaks

Site of Shawnoaks at 5505-5585 Oak Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

According to City staff, while both the Louis Brier and Shawnoaks proposals are larger than what is prescribed in the Cambie Corridor Plan, TransLink’s long-term plans to build rapid transit along the 41st Avenue corridor “elevates the importance of the site beyond what was discussed” in the 2018-approved area plan.

TransLink’s Transport 2050 Plan and the municipal government’s Vancouver Plan envision a new east-west rapid transit line between the University of British Columbia and Metrotown via 41st Avenue west of Cambie Street, where it diagonally transitions to 49th Avenue east of Main Street. This 41st Avenue/49th Avenue corridor is amongst several regional routes considered by TransLink for grade-separated rapid transit, such as SkyTrain.

Currently, the Louis Brier and Shawnoaks sites are well-served by frequent bus services along Oak Street and 41st Avenue, including a stop for the R4 41st Avenue RapidBus. As well, the location is roughly a relatively short 10-minute walk from Oakridge-41st Avenue Station on SkyTrain Canada Line.

During next week’s public meeting, City Council is expected to allow the Louis Brier and Shawnoaks proposals to proceed into their respective separate formal rezoning application processes towards eventual public hearings. Both sites combined could potentially generate thousands of new homes, including hundreds of affordable homes.

vancouver plan rapid transit map approved

Rapid transit concept in the approved Vancouver Plan, with the 41st Avenue/49th Avenue route between UBC and Metrotown depicted. (City of Vancouver)

Within the immediate area, there is already precedent for higher density development through added height.

Just kitty corner from Louis Brier/Shawnoaks, the redevelopment of the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver will include not only a brand new community and recreation centre with much more space and a school, but also a pair of towers up to 26 storeys with about 500 secured rental homes.

To the east, TransLink’s 14-acre former Oakridge Transit Centre (trolley bus depot) will be redeveloped by Grosvenor Americas into about 1,600 homes, including multiple towers also up to 26 storeys.

Immediately to the south at the southwest corner of the intersection of Oak Street and West 41st Avenue, the City is in the process of considering a rezoning application for a 16-storey, mixed-use tower to replace the former Chevron gas station site. The original application in 2020 called for 222 secured rental homes, but a revised application in 2021 changed the housing tenure to 126 condominium homes and 57 social housing units.

950 West 41st Avenue Vancouver Jewish Community Centre

Artistic rendering of the Jewish Community Centre redevelopment at 950 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver. (Acton Ostry Architects)

oakridge transit centre

2020 model of the Oakridge Transit Centre redevelopment. (James Cheng Architects/Modern Green Canada)

1008 West 41st Avenue 5763-5791 Oak Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 1008 West 41st Avenue and 5763-5791 Oak Street, Vancouver. (IBI Group/Wesgroup Properties)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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