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Cadillac Fairview open house brings unhappy opponents together

December 4th, 2015 · 1 Comment

I dropped by the Cadillac Fairview-hosted open house last night (handily held in the very same hotel as the Urban Development Institute’s Christmas party, thanks), where more than 400 people had shown up in the first two hours to take a look.

This was CF’s effort to “engage the public” by displaying nine basic design principles it had come up with for the site (allow people to see the heritage fronts of Waterfront Station and The Landking, keep the gap with views to the North Shore open, allow pedestrian flows, etc.) and some renderings that showed a potential building now behind the station.

The most interesting part, though, was that the two big players here — Cadillac Fairview and the reps for Greg Kerfoot, who owns the rail lands behind Gastown and the station) — were present and clearly not happy with each other. It was definitely a trigger scene for any children of divorced parents.

Architects Jim Cheng (working with CF) and Graham McGarva (working with the Kerfoot group) got into a pretty hot debate about whether the new tower will really have a detrimental effect on planning the whole waterfront hub area that a 2009 city plan envisioned for the Kerfoot lands behind. Cheng challenged the other side to agree to a public debate on the whole topic.

In another part of the room, Niall Collins, a senior vp with Cadillac, and Nevin Sangha, with Carrera Management, which handles Kerfoot’s holdings, were also having a somewhat testy conversation. Collins was definitely not happy about the comments that Sangha had made in my Globe article earlier in the week about the whole project.

As for the building itself that’s proposed there, it was hard for me to tell what it is Cadillac exactly wants to do there, although columnist/developer Michael Geller said it’s pretty clear they’re trying to steer the public in a particular direction. I’m hoping he’ll expand on that.

The only render that gave me some sense of what the company might want is one that shows the same origami type building as in the original proposal, but this time tucked behind the east wing of the station, and with the lines of the new building organized to line up with the roof line of the station and the cornice line of The Landing.

But there’s a lot more than the building at play here. My sense is that the real fight is over when Cadillac Fairview will take down the parkade to the west of the train station and extend Granville Street towards the water.

That street is needed for access to anything developed on Kerfoot’s rail lands and it’s probably the part of the waterfront hub plan his group cares about the most.

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