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Full application for Oakridge mall redevelopment into city, with terraced towers, floating canopies and more

November 7th, 2012 · 82 Comments

The application to transform Oakridge into a community of 2,800 units in nine towers and a bank of townhouses, a park on the roof of the mall, and more is sure to generate a lot of public interest in the coming months.

Open houses are next week, Nov. 15 and 17.

My Globe story with the preliminary look at the complete design is here and the application to the city is here.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Westender1

    It’s interesting to follow the progression on the site – and I hope that the “incremental approach” will be carefully documented by the City for public consumption. It would be a shame if the sheer size of complexity of this project was used to be-fuddle the public to the point that the applicant attains anything to which they aspire.

    This report from City staff is interesting reading:

    http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120725/documents/ptec4-OakridgeCentreRedevelopment.pdf

    Particularly the references to objectives unfulfilled from approvals in 1983 and 1991.

    Also interesting to see the conclusions reached for housing in the 2007 policy statement. As summarized on Page 5 of the report the following is indicated for the residential component:

    “Include housing options suitable for households of all types, ages and incomes. Total residential density is envisaged to be between 1-1.2M square feet. Housing mix is to include: Affordable housing: 20% of total units; Family housing (meeting the Council-adopted Guidelines for High-Density Housing for Families with Children): 50% of affordable housing and 25% of market housing; Seniors housing: a minimum of 100 units. Further, opportunities for ground-oriented family housing units are to be optimized, as well as opportunities explored to improve market housing affordability, possibly including ‘flex suites’ or ‘breakaway suites’ (portions of individual units that can be separated into smaller standalone rental units).”

    In some ways it seems like the system worked reasonably well in 2007 to create a policy that was headed in the right direction on housing issues and providing a range of range of housing opportunities. (Although I think “affordable housing” as noted in the 2007 policy statement may have meant something different than the recently re-defined phrase “affordable housing” – meaning “anything other than ownership”).

    The applicant’s submission for rezoning indicates a total of just under 2.7 million square feet of residential floor area.

    Given that the original increase from 353,000 square feet of residential in the CD-1 zoning to 1.2 million in the policy statement, then to 2.7 million in the rezoning application, I would like to see some careful analysis of both the original increment, and this additional 1.5 million square feet of residential floor area. Is the assumption that all the publicly-desirable stuff can only be achieved in the last increment?

  • http://members.shaw.ca/urbanismo/thu.future/vancouver.failed.html Roger Kemble

    Westender @ #51

    Vancouver Economic Action Strategy (2011)

    This action strategy focuses on creating a climate for economic growth, supporting business investment and trade, and attracting and retaining talent. Strategies include expanding the green economy, protecting job lands and office space and promoting Vancouver as a desirable, livable city. To attract and retain businesses and talented employees the Strategy highlights the importance of creating vibrant neighbourhoods with a dense mix of activities and people, walkable and bikeable public realm, access to amenities and services, a range of affordable housing options, and convenient, reliable transit.

    In that light Westender the city, the province has shed all vestige of a wealth creating, fishing, mining, logging, economy I do not see how a green economy can substitute.

    With a population, vis this conversation, besotted by shiny trinkets, gossiping over systems absolutely out of character, (Go to Moscow and you will see packed trains blasting in and out every two minutes or less.), oh yeah for Moscow, a supporting economy is a long way off.

    Vancouver is an ingrown parasitical economy entirely depended on off shore real estate speculation.

    The trinketeers need not concern themselves with an over crowded Canada Line if this thing ever gets off the ground.

    Expect soon a deluge of buyers one rainy weekend: then hey presto the customary, sold out clarion.

    After which the place will sit empty.

    And if I may paraphrase you Glissie This is Vancouver and . . . errrrr . . Alice doesn’t live here anymore . . .

    (Referring to Alice B. Toklass, famous for her brownies)

  • MB

    @ Westender 1 #51

    Given that the original increase from 353,000 square feet of residential in the CD-1 zoning to 1.2 million in the policy statement, then to 2.7 million in the rezoning application, I would like to see some careful analysis of both the original increment, and this additional 1.5 million square feet of residential floor area. Is the assumption that all the publicly-desirable stuff can only be achieved in the last increment?

    Click on the aerial photo in the lead post in this link . . .

    http://blog.placespeak.com/tag/canada-line/

    . . . to see how many millions of square feet are devoted to asphalt, and you’ll get an idea of the much different and arguably a higher quality world over the existing the proposal promises.

    Now there are flaws, and commenters like Frank and Roger and others elucidated some, but that doesn’t mean the design cannot be changed.

    I’m not thinking exclusively of Oakridge here, but am looking outwards to the future of places like Surrey’s King George highway which is lined with automobile retail and hundreds of hectares of cracked asphalt.

    Oakridge could set the stage for the redevelopment of suburban malls into something better. Some of us hope they can do it right by considering said malls as the villages and towns of the future, and learn from the experience of projects like Oakridge.

  • Mira

    Roger # 52
    “Vancouver is an ingrown parasitical economy entirely depended on off shore real estate speculation.”
    Amen to that!
    But the people of Vancouver are too enamored with the Green snake oil salesmen. Even the kids in elementary are being brainwashed, sorry , greenwashed as we speak…
    No one pays attention to the little man behind the curtain! :-(

  • Dan Cooper

    Everyman inquires, “Can anyone envision Bridgeport or Brighouse being able to take three times more people?”

    I certainly can’t. Still, although it will never have the same level of ridership as those major terminals, my “favourite” oddity station and symptom of the general condition continues to be 49th/Langara, specifically that anyone who cannot take the stairs has to wait for three different elevators in order to get to or from one of the two platforms. (And even those who CAN use stairs have to take three different sets of them and walk through a tunnel.)

  • MB

    @ Roger 52:

    Vancouver is an ingrown parasitical economy entirely depended on off shore real estate speculation. . . .The trinketeers need not concern themselves with an over crowded Canada Line if this thing ever gets off the ground. . . .Expect soon a deluge of buyers one rainy weekend: then hey presto the customary, sold out clarion. . . . After which the place will sit empty.

    Not necessarily.

    This was written about the recent Telus Garden development:

    Local sellers all say that it’s not foreign investors driving the market for the successful projects, but local investors and people planning to live in the condos themselves.

    Ms. Goertz said Telus offered its employees priority in sales at Telus Gardens and 150 of them bought, even though the price discount was a modest one per cent.

    The project’s developers, Telus and Westbank Projects, also didn’t allow anyone to buy more than two units.

    Mr. Forsgren, whose company Intracorp sold out a tower instantly at Metrotown in May of last year, said the company has to track buyers closely because of requirements from FINTRAC, the agency that monitors money laundering and criminal organizations.

    The personal information that had to be submitted for those units showed there were only four offshore buyers.

    He said he expects Intracorp’s newest tower, Silver, to get about 50 to 60 per cent investors among the 3,000 buyers lined up for it. That’s similar to what Mr. McTavish said was the ratio for Marine Gateway.

    But those investors tend to be local investors, people who are buying something for their children to move into some day and renting it in the meantime, or people who are looking for an investment that’s more stable than the stock market appears to be right now.

    It’s ironic how accurate tracking of the now required personal information weeds out the criminal money laundering element — and gives the analysts quality data on where the buyers come from.

    http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/teluss-vancouver-condos-fly-off-the-market/article4098423/?service=mobile

  • Dan Cooper

    Okay, I will put out one more factor that is a problem throughout North America and thus not the fault of the planners or designers here in Vancouver: North Americans won’t pack and push into trains or buses the way people will most anywhere else in the world, and what is considered “too full” for more people to enter here is a very different thing than in the rest of the world. I always shake my head when I see a “full” bus go by with no one in the back third, and none of those in the front two thirds standing closer than a foot from each other. Maybe Translink needs to hire some “push men” from the Tokyo subways, or import Russian babushki or Japanese obatarions (feisty elders by any name…) to ride the buses and trains and shove everyone back? Or we will all need to get over our fear of coincidental physical contact with other human beings not related by marriage. *heh*

  • brilliant

    @Frank Ducote 47-reduced to being the spelling marm, how sad. Yes, I realize your ilk likes to gloss over the wave of foreign investors who have driven up real estate prices. How else could you peddle the notion to the gullible locals that they should be thankful for the opportunity to shoehorn their families into one of these shoeboxes in the sky.

  • http://www.theyorkshirelad.ca/8architecture/vivo.htm Roger Kemble

    MB 2 #56

    1. Remember the Beasely? Line-ups on the street.

    2. Remember Gateway? That rainy weekend beginning of this year? Lots of empties now!

    3.Telus employee incentives? Shot gun or what.

    A real city comes in little pieces all joined together.

    Oakridge? One great big sealed package! You only get sun light if you pay.

  • Frank Ducote

    Brilliant not – whose peddling what, schoolmarm? At least you managed to avoid racist and political invective in this latest post, sticking only with personal insult. Oh well, that’s a tiny improvement for which I am grateful. Keep it up! Soon you may even be brave enough to reveal your identity so we can all know who it is that can post such diatribe.

  • waltyss

    @Frank Ducote #60. Brilliant not and its racist twin Mira know only one thing: to spew hateful, racist filth. That’s what they do and we should feel sorry for them, difficult as that may be.
    If feeling sorry for their ilk is too much to ask, then the next best thing to do is ignore them and continue on with commentary that has at least somewhat of a constructive element.

  • boohoo

    “then the next best thing to do is ignore them”

    Heed your own advice!

  • http://www.chriskeam.com Chris Keam

    “Maybe Translink needs to hire some “push men” from the Tokyo subways, or import Russian babushki or Japanese obatarions (feisty elders by any name…) to ride the buses and trains and shove everyone back?”

    Again, this is not conducive to encouraging parents and children to use the bus and further, if a driver can rightfully expect there to be road space to use their vehicle, transit users should be able to reasonably expect a seat on transit for their fare during all operating hours, with some exception for large public events. Shoving people onto already overcrowded transit isn’t a solution, it’s an insult IMO — to those people making a smart, community-friendly transportation choice.

  • Westender1

    MB, I’m not indicating an objection to the intensification of development at Oakridge or the conversion of surface parking lots – these are probably positive things. I do find it odd that in 2007 the City completed a public process to arrive at a policy statement that would guide changes at Oakridge – but the content of the rezoning application doesn’t appear to reflect that policy, at least in terms of floorspace and heights.

  • Frank Ducote

    Westender1 – you are right about the shift in policy since earlier rezonings. The biggest one being, IMO, the public park requirement.

    This CD-1 application does change the game – in the words of the architect – substantially. But that is the nature of the beast in terms of CD-1 rezonings in Vancouver, they are each a separate entity unto themselves. (For those anti-Visionistas out there, this is independent of what party holds power.)

    Personally, I’d prefer such a large development, which will have to be phased over many years, to have different architects for different buildings, in order to ensure variety in character and expression.

    I admit that at the rezoning stage that this preference is of rather small significance.

  • brilliant

    Sadly Frank Ducote and waltsyss can’t see the bamboo for the trees. To ignore the obvious factor of foreign investors and to try and stifle discussion of it by bleating “racism” is as silly and inneffective as Visions affordable housing task force, which did exactly the same thing.

  • Terry M

    Waltyss @ 61
    This must be a record for you.
    “Racist; spew; hateful; filth… words”and ad hominem attacks on two people in ONE sentence!
    I’m feeling sorry that Iwas subjected to reading that! Phew!

  • rico

    Vancouver has ALWAYS had a large number of foreign realestate speculators. It was built be foreign speculator (or at least out of province speculators like the C P R). I would venture a guess that based on the size of the city now versus say 1910 the portion of out of city speculators now is probably less. So apart from the complaint about foreign what is the problem? If it is housing affordability I would assume most speculators rent their units out (pretty stupid not to) so speculators make it more expensive to buy but cheaper to rent…and maybe not as much more expensive to buy as you think because the good market drives the creation of more units and with the world of supply and demand increasing supply decreases costs (the problem here is demand is increasing faster than supply).

  • http://www.chriskeam.com Chris Keam

    Bamboo is a grass and placing the smaller item in front of the larger completely nullifies the meaning of the expression.

  • Glissando Remmy

    Thought of The Day

    “More Expensive & More Expensive… the Twin Brothers!”

    Rico #38
    “o speculators make it more expensive to buy but cheaper to rent…”
    Yes & No
    I’d say it’s become ‘more expensive’ & ‘more expensive’.
    A 600sqft 1Bdr apartment “worth” $125,000 in West End in 1997 was rented with $600-700/mo.
    Now the same apartment is “asked for” $500,000 and/or rented with $1,500 -1,800/mo.
    Worth the money? Absolutely not.
    Where there major improvements or fancy appliances or amenities added to this unit? Absolutely not.
    Did the owner/ landlord earned that increase in the asking price? Absolutely not.
    Is there a particulate self entitlement in the air vis a vis a real estate market speculation? Absolutely yes.

    I liked and agree with what Roger #52 said too:
    “Vancouver is an ingrown parasitical economy entirely depended on off shore real estate speculation.”

    So…

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • brilliant

    @Chris Keam 69-if one can’t see the bamboo for trees, the bamboo would be behind the trees, no?

    @Terry M 67-be gentle on waltsyss, its all he knows.

    @rico 68-the CPR developed the land with the intent to sell it to local residents.This wave of foreign buyers includes far too many who don’t intend to rent their aquisitions, they simply sit empty, as sources such as Peter Ladner have reported. The houses are simply a safe place to park their money, they’re not homes.

  • http://www.chriskeam.com Chris Keam

    @Brilliant:

    I sense you may not understand the intent of the original metaphor.

    cheers,
    CK

  • http://voony.wordpress.com Voony

    rico @ 45:

    Voony, potentially a good idea about the sunken transit plaza. I could not figure out the point you were trying to make with the wiki link about the Turin metro. Could you elaborate? I assume it also has short stations.

    Yes, it has, but more than that, its subway is very narrow, 2m08.

    regarding the pedestrian street, and my concern on it, I have elaborated on it in the next post at comment @41

  • jolson

    The upper limit on density is always liveability, measured by established design guidelines. For this site it is easily twice the area proposed. The interesting question from a development perspective is; what does density mean in terms of overall energy consumption by society? We assume that TOD development is a sustainable strategy as an act of faith in the rhetoric of supporters. But what is needed is someone to do the environmental analysis on forms of development, travel patterns, and means of transport. Having armed ourselves with a bit of knowledge on the fundamentals, we might then amuse ourselves with urban design thoughts about getting things right.

  • http://www.chriskeam.com Chris Keam

    “A 600sqft 1Bdr apartment “worth” $125,000 in West End in 1997 was rented with $600-700/mo.
    Now the same apartment is “asked for” $500,000 and/or rented with $1,500 -1,800/mo.”

    Hmm, the way I parse those numbers it sounds as though purchase cost quadrupled and the rental cost only tripled, and Rico’s point stands.

  • Dan Cooper

    Chris Keam writes, “…if a driver can rightfully expect there to be road space to use their vehicle, transit users should be able to reasonably expect a seat on transit for their fare during all operating hours…”

    Oh wow! I post a silly suggestion while riffing on the ridiculousness (alliteration alert!) of “full” buses that area actually a third empty and the socially phobic North Americans that cause this, and I get a response that is completely divorced from the reality of the universe in which we live…yet apparently competely seriously intended. Oh my.

    No public transit system anywhere in the world provides a guaranteed seat at all hours to every one of its riders. None of them even come vaguely close to such a thing, and in fact anything like it is simply impossible with current technology. I’m ruling out teleporters, you understand. There are often special services – e.g. designated, long distance commuter buses with severely limited hours, paratransit for the elderly and disabled – that do, but they are by far the minority of service provided. Why is this? Because a system that guaranteed a seat (or even a square metre of standing space so you don’t have to touch anyone else) would be ungodly expensive, not to mention wasteful since most of the massive number of vehicles that would be necessary at rush hour would sit empty the rest of the day. It would probably have to be either to a system of universally available chauffered (or Google driverless) taxis sitting on every street corner, or half the entire land area of the city devoted to rail lines and small rail cars going every which way. Since someone would have to pay for this (TANSTAAFL) it would either bankrupt the government, or would charge so much for each ride that no one would actually use the system (which would…bankrupt the government that built it).

    p.s. The fact is that car drivers also sit in traffic jams rather than being guaranteed road space whenever they want it, and for the same reason. There simply is not unlimited space, money and technology to make it otherwise.

  • Dan Cooper

    A correction and mea culpa: Social phobia is, of course, an actual problem for those who have it, and I should not have used it in reference to the behaviour I described above. Rather, I will say: “…’full’ buses that area actually a third empty because many North Americans will neither move back or out of the way so others can get in or past, nor (especially among Canadians) look at, speak to, or (heaven forbid) get close enough to another human even for a moment in passing that incidental contact between them might occur.”

  • http://www.chriskeam.com Chris Keam

    @Dan:

    “The fact is that car drivers also sit in traffic jams rather than being guaranteed road space whenever they want it, and for the same reason. ”

    That’s a false analogy. For starters, I don’t know of anywhere in Canada where one can’t get their car onto the street because there isn’t room. Travel speed is irrelevant, as bus passengers undergo similar delays during peak periods. The reality is that automobile users are allocated a huge excess of road space, as evidenced simply by standing at any major intersection in Metro Vancover at any time outside of peak hours. There are hundreds of kilometres of unused space going to waste for at least 20 hours a day… to accommodate peak demand. Why should transit users be treated differently? Further, for your analogy to hold water, as one got closer to a major destination, there would be an expectation for drivers to have smaller vehicles, to take up less road space, just as a standing passenger on a bus takes up less floor space than a seated one.

    The actual reality is that it’s a question of prioritizing funding, not a lack thereof. After all, you can buy a train, bus, or plane ticket that will take you across the country for a few hundred dollars, seat guaranteed, and yet it’s impossible to ensure people can’t travel in comfort for a few kilometres for (soon-to-be) $2.75? It doesn’t wash.

    Any other form of transportation is ‘full’ when all the seats are taken… and in an automobile it’s against the law to take more passengers than seat belts. Transit users are clearly second-class citizens to the people that hold the purse strings. It’s the only logical explanation, otherwise we’d spend less on blacktop and more on mass methods of moving people safely and comfortably.

  • http://www.chriskeam.com Chris Keam

    ““full” buses that area actually a third empty”

    Have you seen the Commercial Station/99b line situation in the morning? The buses so full at Cambie and Broadway in the afternoon, that it can take two or three pass-ups to enjoy the luxury of being forced into a too-close for comfort situation on a bus that epitomizes ‘packed to the gills’ . I don’t know if you actually ride the bus Dan, but my experience is that during peak hours there’s no extra room at all, and in fact there needs to be a certain amount of free aisle space for people to get off and on the bus, that rarely exists… the end result being that people miss their stop, or the bus has to wait even longer for the embarkation/disembarkation cycle to be completed. That’s not even mentioning the fact that the overcrowded transit in places like Japan has to allocate women-only cars to prevent unwanted sexual contact, and as I’ve already mentioned, that over-capacity transit renders buses basically unusable for people trying to travel with small children at peak hours. Been there, done that, got the Car2Go card to address the issue. More money out of the local economy because we are afraid of a true rationalization of road space that reflects a desire to move the most people for the lowest cost.

    cheers,

    CK

  • http://www.chriskeam.com Chris Keam

    A final point.

    If we take your opinion that buses are two thirds full when only two thirds of the aisle space is being used, one could argue that all we need to do is roughly double transit capacity at peak periods, to ensure there’s seats for one and all. With Translink’s 2012 budget at roughly $1.3 billion (which of course includes road facilities, which would not have to necessarily be expanded to accommodate a larger bus fleet, and admin costs – [same as road vis a vis added expenditures not having to scale], it ‘only’ requires an additional $500m a year at the absolute uppermost estimate to guarantee a safe, comfortable experience for transit users. It sounds like a lot of money, but in reality, given what we know about the costs of other initiatives, from photo-opp fake lakes to $15m propaganda campaigns, (http://www.theprovince.com/business/Clark+must+defend+million+blitz/7504103/story.html#ixzz2BSxMKozA) what we have here is failure to prioritize.

  • http://www.chriskeam.com Chris Keam

    OK, I guess one should never put ‘a final point’… because something invariably occurs to you five minutes later.

    My estimates regarding the cost to ensure safe, comfortable transit for all are grossly excessive, because not every route is standing room only/pass ups. It would only take investment in additional capacity on key routes to make our transit system as comfortable and easy to use as a SOV.

  • http://www.chriskeam.com Chris Keam