CALUC Letter re 1106 Blanshard Street, Montrose Winter Garden Hotel
Updated: Jun 21, 2021
The DRA LUC hosted a CALUC meeting for this application on 29 January 2020. Thirty-six people registered their attendance at the door. David Fullbrook – Merchant House Capital, Jennifer Kay – TownSquare, and Frank D’Ambrosio – D’Ambrosio architecture + urbanism conducted the presentation and answered questions from attendees. A summary of the public meeting with the public’s comments is appended to this letter. A follow up meeting was held via Zoom with the applicants and LUC members on 12 November 2020.
The OCP mandates a maximum density of 6:1 in the Downtown Core. This density is already exceedingly generous even when compared to other jurisdictions including London, UK and Manhattan. This application is requesting a 6.5% increase over the this maximum, but this appears misleading as this calculation includes a transfer of unused density from a separate legal property. The effective density for the proposed hotel project considered on its own lot is actually 9.13:1 which is higher than maximums for Hong Kong.
This proposal appears to have been structured in such a way as to strip all additional density from the Montrose property while avoiding the expenses involved with seismic upgrades in order to maximize the developer’s benefit and profit.
We are concerned that Staff has reinterpreted aspects of our core planning documents in order to bring this proposal before Council. We suggest that it’s not the job of our Planning Department to maximize the profit of developers but to uphold the vision for the city and the downtown; bringing an objective eye to all applications, leaving the political decisions of compromise to Council, having been informed by the applicant’s presentation, Staff’s objective review and community input.
Council’s approval of applications such as this will only encourage others to come forward with equally inappropriate proposals that are outside the bounds of our recently updated core planning documents and contrary to the vision they represent for the future of our city.