456-495 Prior Proposal: Letter of Concern

To: Tom Wanklin, Liefka Vissers, Hayley Hoikka

tom.wanklin@vancouver.ca; Leifka.Vissers@vancouver.ca; Hayley.Hoikka@vancouver.ca

January 6, 2022

Tom, Liefka and Hayley,

Thank you for attending the SRA monthly meeting in November to discuss Strand’s proposed development of the property at 456-495 Prior St.  

In light of the feedback we received from residents then and since, the SRA has reviewed the proposed re-zoning application and design plan and would like to express the following concerns and recommendations:

  • Building Height. At 210’, the current proposal more than doubles the 100’ conditional height limit as described in section 7.1.3. of the False Creek Area Plan for the proposed change to CD-1 Zoning.  The rationale for this height restriction was that “the tallest building should be located on the centre of the (hospital) site, transitioning down to the residential scale in Strathcona to the north.” At 210’, the proposed development will match or exceed the height of every other building on the hospital campus.
  • Massing and FSR. Current zoning restricts the site to a maximum 3.0 FSR. The proposal asks for 4.68 FSR, including an expansion of the current allowable commercial density from 104,000 sf to 259,000 sf. The developer argues that, by its own analysis of demand for commercial space, “there is significant risk if the strategic properties around the hospital are not built to their full density potential.” We are concerned that the considerable effort put into the False Creek Flats Area Plan to create a vibrant and coherent urban landscape is being dismissed when challenged by a developer’s natural desire to maximize the financial potential of this site. This disregard of city planners for their own plan, which surely incorporates more objective demand estimates, sets a disturbing precedent for future proposals. The Urban Design Panel’s Oct. 27, 2021 review of the proposal seemed fixated on the building itself rather than its place in the surrounding urban eco-system. Why does city planning even exist if not to balance a developer’s self-interests with a city’s needs by considering the “inter-relationship of all physical components of the City”.
  • Lack of Transition to existing residential neighbourhood. The current proposal does not create a transition to the residential housing along Atlantic and Prior. As can be seen in the photo below, it looks more like a fortress guarding the hospital campus from the neighbourhood. 
  • Vague Community Benefit. The sole community benefit proposed is a “cultural space amenity” on the ground floor, which seems designed as a retail space or under-utilized community room. It is difficult to image what cultural use this space could be put to or who would make that determination. To consider the inclusion of secured rental housing in and of itself as a community benefit undermines the rationale of requiring community benefits to enhance and integrate in with the existing community.
  • Artist Studios. It is also difficult to see how the market rental live/work artist’s studios will effectively replace the loss of 36,000 sf of existing affordable artist studio spaces. This loss of artist space has been a chronic problem throughout our community. We have witnessed in the past how such spaces are often rented to users more accurately described as tech entrepreneurs than artists.

Our recommendations:

  • We acknowledge and support the inclusion of affordable rental housing but see no justification for discarding the well-considered parameters of existing False Creek Flats Plan to obtain it. At eleven stories the building would match the height of the new Villa Cathay Care Home and still provide a density of rental housing supportable by the site and surrounding neighbourhood.
  • The massing of the five-story podium should conform to the CD-1 maximum 3.0 FSR and offer a more thoughtful and inviting transition and integration to the existing and envisioned post-viaduct Strathcona and Chinatown neighbourhoods.
  • The “cultural space” should be defined and designed as a vital and lively component of the emerging Eastside Arts District, perhaps some sort of incubator where young artists can access studio space and equipment. This would be a draw for the existing community, a generator of innovation, and a launchpad for careers.
  • The artist’s live/work spaces should owned or managed by an organization that can ensure they are available to legitimate artists, akin to the City of Vancouver’s existing Artist Studio Awards Program.

We the undersigned residents agree with these concerns and support these recommendations:

1.     Dan Jackson                568 Keefer St.

2.     Caroline Neufeld          568 Keefer St.

3.     Richard Taplin              621 Atlantic St.

4.     Sally Taplin                  621 Atlantic St.

5.     Peter Smith                 740 Union St.

6.     John Ullrich                 442 E. Pender St 

7.     Mike Rhone                 829 Campbell St.

8.     Lisa Rhone                  829 Campbell St.

9.     Aimee Odegard           486 E. Pender St.

10.  Nicole Marcia                486 E. Pender St.

11.  Randy Jacobs               827 Georgia St.

12.  Marcia Carlyn               827 Georgia St.

13.  Ted Bairstow                877 Prior St.

14.  Elaine Watson              834 Union St.

15.  Maria & Josh Olson      812 E. Pender St.

16.  Diana Mogensen          461 Hawks Ave.

17.  Allision Liang                662 Prior St.

18.  Natalie Mackie             662 Prior St.

19.  Bruce Inglis                  1220 E. Pender St.      

20.  David Galloway            750 Heatley Ave

21.  Lorene MacDonald       730 Union St. Unit C

22.  Gregory Kennedy         1157 E. Pender St.

23.  Siobhan McCormick      239 E Georgia St. #605

24.  Michael Bateman          823 ½ Prior St.

25.  Ruth de la Giroday       538 Union St. #1

26.  Karin Litzcke                1170 E. Georgia St.

27.  Dick Heloffs                 666 Union St.

28.  Graham Elvidge          844 Dunlevy Ave.

29.  Charlotte Elvidge        844 Dunlevy Ave. 

30.  Kathleen Stormont      844 Dunlevy Ave.

31.  Mike Sismey               301-634 E. Georgia St.

32.  Kate Brunton              707 Hawks Ave.

33.  Danielle Lewis            662 Georgia St.

34.  Albert Klaussen          617 Atlantic

35.  Kath Klaussen            617 Atlantic

36.  Tolar Armitt                 624 Union St.

37.  Ghazal Arefi               865 Union St.

38.  Carlyn Yandle             516 Hawks Ave.

39.  Michele Searle            567 Prior St.

40.  Carole Sawyer            603 Atlantic St.

41.  Andrea Kastanis         451 E Pender St.

42.  Mira Malatestinic         860 Union St.

43.  Lorene MacDonald      730 Union St.

44.  Roxanne Johnson        554 Union St.

45.  Scooter Johnson          554 Union St.

46.  Teresa Vandertuin        543 E. Pender St.

47.  Sheilagh Badanic         632 Union St.

48.  Spencer McKinnon      632 Union St.

49.  Lachlan McKinnon       632 Union St.

50.  Katherine Tobin           726 Vernon St.

51.  David Setterlund         726 Vernon St.

52.  Lorraine Holubowich   102-725 Jackson St.

53.  Lisa Robison               712 Hawks Ave.

54.  Kari Frantzen              705 Union St.

55.  Jan Marie Martell        750 E. Georgia


E.  sra@strathcona-residents.org
W. https://strathcona-residents.org/