Perspective: The Kingsway & Broadway Redevelopment
January 31st, 2012 | Mainly Main Magazine
In light of the recent debate regarding the construction of a new development at Kingsway & Broadway, we’ve asked both the Residents Association of Mount Pleasant (RAMP) and Rize Alliance Properties to weigh-in. Here is their response:
Mount Pleasant residents are concerned about a nineteen-story condominium tower under consideration for the South-West corner of Broadway and Kingsway. If City Hall approves the project, the face of Mount Pleasant will be changed significantly.What exactly can we expect if this large development is allowed to be built? It’s likely that property taxes and rents will increase. It’s possible people will be displaced. It will affect the bike route, by increasing car and truck traffic on 10th Avenue between Main and Kingsway. It will also set a precedent for what is built on two other large parcels in Mount Pleasant which may be redeveloped within the relatively near future: Kingsgate Mall and the IGA mall.Over the past three years, City Hall has been granting real-estate developer requests to increase the height and density that can be built to on certain sites throughout the City. Vancouver is a growing City and needs to make room for new residents. This means density, and room for more people, but it has also been leading to gentrification.Despite having opened up to new supposedly denser condos for some time however, according to the most recent census data, Mount Pleasant has been shrinking. From 2001 to 2006 the neighbourhood shrunk by 4% as the rest of the City grew by almost 6%, which is significant. The decrease could be because existing rental buildings, with families living in overcrowded situations, are being displaced by new stratas, which often only have one person living in them. The number of one-person households has been increasing in Mount Pleasant for years. Affordable rental units that house more people are being replaced with one and two bedroom market priced condominiums.There are many working class and immigrant families who live here. Usually they live in the purpose built, affordable rental. They are the diversity that makes Mount Pleasant livelier than much of the rest of the city. There are a wide variety of restaurants, people are always out on the street, and most of the businesses are still independent, small, and family run.
But many retail spaces are sitting empty along Main Street. Happy Bats, a Main Street favourite, has gone out of business because of high rents. Other businesses have followed suit. It could be that property owners are waiting for new, more expensive businesses to come to the neighbourhood, instead of signing a lease with a business that can’t afford to pay high rents.
To build the project, bylaws state the developer has to give back to the neighbourhood in the form of ‘community amenity contributions’. In the most recent proposal, the amenities were market rental and artists space. Neither are guaranteed to be affordable to current Mount Pleasant residents.
The development on Broadway and Kingsway will set a precedent for our ever changing neighbourhood. It is representative of the types of developers that are trying to build in Mount Pleasant. Whether or not these projects get built in the form they are proposed depends on the action of neighbourhood residents, and the responsiveness of municipal politicians.
Chris Vollan – Rize Alliance Properties
Rize stepped into Mount Pleasant in 2007, purchasing a parcel of land at the corner of Kingsway and Broadway and expanded in 2009 with the purchase and completion of the new OnQue building at Quebec and Broadway. We are happy to say we have 48 new homeowners and renters, and are soon to have three business owners, who are all excited to be living and working in Mount Pleasant.
New buildings, such as our OnQue project and the proposed rezoning of our Kingsway and Broadway site represent change, and are part of a long history of growth and change in Mount Pleasant. In talking with our neighbours, the theme of change and evolution of the neighbourhood is consistent and regarded with a mixture of anticipation, excitement and sometimes, trepidation. Developer Herbert Lee anticipated huge change for Mount Pleasant when he started construction on the Lee Building at Broadway and Main 100 years ago; banking that “Hilltown” would become an upscale and fashionable district. His vision, and that of many others who have built homes, apartments and businesses in Mount Pleasant, combined with those wanting to live and work here, has been a constant force of evolution and change and brings us to the unique community we know today.
Mount Pleasant is a very “in demand” place, with many Vancouverites wanting to enjoy its unique personality, characteristics and amenities.
With the future likelihood of a fixed rail (LRT, subway or other) line along Broadway, the busiest transit corridor in the Americas, there is no better location within Metro Vancouver for appropriate density than the intersection of Kingsway and Broadway. People want to live in Mount Pleasant, and live sustainably in a neighbourhood that is walkable, with easy access to transit and city amenities.
Our work at Rize, as developers and homebuilders, is guided by city bylaws, good planning and architectural practice and, in the case of Mount Pleasant, the Mount Pleasant Community Plan. The plan recognizes only three large sites in Mount Pleasant as high density and as potential high-rise sites, with the provision of appropriate community contributions, and thus limits the remainder of Mount Pleasant to its predominately single family or low-rise multi-family forms. Towers at Kingsway and Broadway and Main and 13th are possible under the plan but will not be permitted elsewhere; acknowledging and preserving a unique Vancouver low-density condition (try and find a single family home within 5km of central Paris, Barcelona or New York).
Since embarking on the rezoning process in 2008, we have viewed our proposal for redevelopment of the corner bounded by Broadway, Kingsway, 10th and Watson as something which will benefit an evolving neighbourhood. We, in turn, have greatly benefited from the community plan process and public input, which have shaped our thoughts and the proposed development into something as unique as our neighbourhood.
For more information on our current rezoning proposal, please come visit our Community Information Centre at the old Cantu space (196 Kingsway at East 10th). We’d be happy to continue the discussion with you.