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Comparisons of heights, density of other Mount Pleasant buildings

February 28th, 2012 · 14 Comments

In response to a request from another poster, Joe Just Joe has done heroic work in digging up some numbers for people to compare to the Rize project. They’re buried in a string, so I’m re-posting here.

298 East 11th Avenue (2725 Sophia) 8 stories, 3.0FSR.

350 Kingsway 13 stories (126ft), 3.0 FSR

96 East Broadway 3 stories, 3.0 FSR

2758 Prince Edward 9 stories, 3.00FSR

2321 Scotia Street (The Elyse) 9 stories, 3.01FSR.

133 EAST 8TH AVENUE 6 Stories, 3.0FSR

301 Kingsway 11 Stories, 3.0FSR

1 Kingsway, 9 stories, 2.96FSR

2520 MANITOBA STREET 5 Stories, 2.74FSR

Could not find Jacobsen, but looking at the comparibles it’s safe to say it’ll be ~3FSR

333 Main 5 stories 2.5FSR.

Think I’m done though, you can buy me a beer at the next secret monthly Frances Bula beerfest.

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  • Everyman

    To me this illustrates the Rize proposal is clearly out of scale with the newbuilds in the area. Why did the City even allow this to come forward?

  • FSR is the measure of density used by the development industry, and the municipal regulators. It is not that difficult to understand.

    Imagine a building lot with a building one storey high, built right to the property line on all four sides—that = FSR 1.0.

    Now get out your cake knife and cut that building into four equal sections and stack them one on top of the other to get a four storey building—that still = FSR 1.0.

    To get to FSR 2.0, get another 4-storey building of identical dimensions and stack it on top of the first, for a total of 8 storeys—that = FSR 2.0.

    Joe has shown us an FSR of 3.o. Provided the zoning envelope allows 12 storeys (in Mount Pleasant it does not) you can get a third building and stack it on top of the first two—that = FSR 3.0.

    That twelve storey building is now equal to a 3-storey building that covers the whole site, also = FSR 3.0.

    (I know, it’s crazy stuff unless you are designing a building, or shaping out a pro-forma too see how much return an investment in land will realize).

    To fit FSR 3.0 within an 8-storey zoning envelope you could put the third 4-storey stack behind the first two, and create a building with a ‘stepped’ massing.

    If the 4-storey stack is put in the front, against the sidewalk or the ‘streetwall’, and the 8-storey stack is put behind it, then we have ‘stepped back the massing’. Important concept to preserve solar penetration to the street.

    I go on a lot about fee-simple buildings because they can do away with elevators and hallways.

    Most of our residential buildings, including towers and apartments, but not row houses, use up 15% of their FSR in circulation (i.e. elevators, exit stairs, and corridors).

    That 15% of FSR represents a calculation of ‘wasted area’ that is seldom mentioned in sustainability discussions.

    Another consideration discussed in the lobby last night, but not mentioned in the Council Chamber is the municipal parking requirement.

    In our case study for the Historic Quartiers we assume “fast and efficient transportation” and we eliminate the requirement for parking from our FSR calculations.

    Parking does not count in the FSR calculation, but it is typically below grade, and uses up FSR in the space of the access ramp (that occupies floor area on the first level) and the circulation calculations of 15%. Most buildings have stairs and elevators that service the parking levels.

    Buildings can still provide parking if desired. However, in the VHQ world, it would not be a city requirement on streets with BRT/LRT.

    It is impossible to predict how much of an incentive that would be. One wants to say, “a stampede” could follow. But, that’s clearly over the top. Nevertheless, it presents yet another incentive that:

    (a) frees developers to ‘think out of the box’ on how to design affordable housing.

    (b) shines the spot light on the city to build an urban infrastructure that really works.

    The text for my prsentation at the Public Hearing here:

  • Joe Just Joe

    My digging of data was simple to answer another posters questions and not to try and make a point. For the record I do feel this site can handle more then a 3.0FSR, it might even be able to handle a 5FSR if the massing is correct. I’m still not convinced that the proposal is the right answer. I don’t think the current proposal pleases anyone, not even the supporters.

  • To see what a taller 3 FSR building looks like on Broadway, check out the Manhattan West at Fir. I believe it is 18 storeys and just under 170 feet. I should know since when I assisted with the Development Approval, I was paid a bonus of $1000 for every foot over the permitted height of 120 feet 🙂

    When looking at FSR and building ‘bulk’, a consideration not to be overlooked is the floor to floor height. Older apartments generally had 8 foot ceiling heights; however newer buildings often have 9 foot ceilings, and some buildings in this area, such as SOMA have even heigher ceilings. As a general rule, allow 8 or 9 inches for the floor structure.

    Ground floor retail needs to be higher…between 10 and 17 feet is not uncommon. Second floor retail or office space also needs extra height.

  • Michelle

    Thanks Lewis #2 for the explanation of FSR. Finally I get it! 🙂
    Michael #4, $50,000 bonus for shoveling papers? Not bad, not bad…

  • Frank Ducote

    Michael – thanks for two things: letting the rest of us know how your incentive system works (!!) and, second, introducing floor to floor height into this discussion.

    On the latter subject, the typical Parisian Belle Epoque format of 6 storeys plus attic includes the following: a high ground floor (for cafes, shops, lobby, etc.), a piano nobile “first” floor (also overheight in comparison to today’s standards), likely where the owner lived, 4 repetitive floors and a somewhat cramped attic.

    I’m guessing the typical floors have at least 12 ‘ floor to floor heights and the ground floor maybe 15’or more. Given all this, this lovely urban form that so resonates with many people on the fabula blog equates to roughly 9-10 storeys or so in today’s terms.

    I have no idea what the FSR of such a building might be, but having stayed in a few I can attest that neighbours’ windows are not very far away.
    Typical western livability standards, building codes and market acceptance certainly wouldn’t allow such a format today, here.

    I offer this just for future reference, not as a proposition for the Rize or any other site. Although it is interesting to note that the previaling height of new condos in Mt. Pleasant is 100′ (1 Kingsway, etc.) , which is close to the Parisan model on grand boulevards.

  • Jon Petrie

    Re Michael Geller #4: “I was paid a bonus of $1000 for every foot over the permitted height of 120 feet.”

    “Height lift” needs to be better understood by citizens evaluating whether the public benefits offered by a developer in exchange for a relaxed height and/or density are fair payment for the asked for relaxation.

    Per Anson Realty and Bosa’s pre sales offices (89 W 2nd/ 1650 Quebec) each floor higher for an identical circa 1000 sq ft apartment results in a $10,000 dollar increase in price. (Bosa — 1020 sq ft apt on 5th floor asking $719,000 — same apartment on 9th floor $759,000.)

    So in broad terms a one foot rise in elevation is worth one dollar per square foot in gross revenue to a developer of a view condo tower.

    I estimate the gross “height lift” value to Rize if the City waives the 70′ height guideline and allows Rize to put up a 215′ nineteen storey tower at Kingsway and 10th Av as circa $7,350,000.

    My calculation: Each floor of the proposed tower has ten condos averaging 750 sq ft. Each apartment’s selling price goes up $7,500 per ten foot gain of elevation, ten apartments per floor plate, so move one floor plate from the 60′ level to the 70′ level and gross gain to the developer is $75,000.

    Move that same floor from 60′ to 205′ and the gross gain is circa 13 times $75,000 or just under a million dollars for that one floor plate.

    Fourteen of the 19 floors of the tower are above the 70′ guideline height. Average increase in elevation per floor plate for each of those fourteen floor plates is seven floors. One hundred and forty units total for those fourteen floor plates. And 140 (units) times $7500 times seven (average number of floors raised) equals $7,350,000.

    Actually the figure is a bit low since I am assuming all of the 140 units in the proposed tower come from the 60′ level — in fact some of the floor space for those units would have had to have come from lower levels.

    Anything wrong with my math, my reasoning ?
    Any similar calculations elsewhere?

  • Tom

    @Micheal Geller

    “Older apartments generally had 8 foot ceiling heights; however newer buildings often have 9 foot ceilings”

    Could you clarify what you mean by “older?” My building was built in 1912. The main ceiling is 9 ft with some areas extending to 10 ft. My previous apartment which was a 60s rental walkup had 9ft ceilings. My brother’s brand new apartment has 8ft ceilings with the developer bragging about some having 9 ft ceilings.

    It is my impression that older apartments in fact had higher ceilings and newer ones have lower, with 9 ft being considered a “step up” even though that was the minimum in days gone by. I could be wrong, just curious.

  • Tom, you’re right…really old buildings often had higher ceiling heights…

    When I referenced ‘older’, I was thinking of the high rise buildings constructed from the 50’s until the late 80’s, when architects and developers started to increase the floor to ceiling height.

    And Michelle #5, trust me, I had to do much more than just shovel papers….I had to take a senior planner over to the site and show him sketches of just how chunky a single 12 storey building would look on such a large site, and then pontificate as eloquently as possible at both the Urban Design Panel and Development Permit Board.

    I had to convince the city that this design approach would add to the greening of the area, and that the architect, W.T.Leung would design a really elegant building, etc. etc.

    If you go over to the site and study the building, I would like to think you will agree that the resulting building is indeed much better than many of the typcial nearby chunky stucco buildings (although I was always a bit uncomfortable with the design of the second floor restaurant at the corner.

    There, now you know a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to designing and approving buildings 🙂

  • Michelle @ 5

    Welcome to the Dark Side, Michelle.

  • Frank Ducote @6

    Thanks to highlight some important points about “Parisian urbanism” which are unfortunately pretty often overlooked here when people use it as a reference.

    It was also the point I did a while ago here:

    footnote [8] of the above link points to the Parisian urban code (envelop diagram… if you understand the metric system, it is all you need to understand this): you can see that, save for he tower, the Rize exterior massing respect more or less the canon of the Parisian urban code.

    That was also offered for reference…

  • Frank Ducote

    Thanks, Voony.Very useful. The Parisian model has been used extensively around the world for many reasons, from Buenos aires to Mexico City to you-name-it. Even though the roughly 80-100′ height of our presnt 10 storey building typology, I think we agree that the quality of materials, floor to ceiling heights and high solid-void ratios (wall to window) of the neoclassical idiom do make us feel something is lacking in our current architectural expression. Optically, a 6-7 storey with high windows simply looks lower that a 9-10 storey building of the same height, doesn’t it?

  • Higgins

    Now that I know how Michael Geller #4 makes his Bonus on a Development, as a consultant, I sleep much better knowing that he is involved with the Task Force and “saving” the city in the process, LOL, Housing Affordability my behind from this greedy out of reality bunch. Like letting the wolves to be in charge of the sheep. How crooked can this Mayor and Council really be? Or… wicked? Hmmm…

  • Westender1

    Higgins, I take some comfort that Michael Geller IS involved – Mr. Geller appears to be one of the few who is willing to share the truth about how the development industry works, and what is involved in negotiating development solutions. Much of what we hear from others in the industry is simply “spin.”