August 9, 2022
The DRA Land Use Committee has reviewed the rezoning application for the property at 780 Blanshard. We understand that the application is for a 22 storey, 77 room hotel, 102 dwelling unit, addition to an existing heritage building (the BC Power Commission Building). The FSR of the overall development is 4.6 (1.6 commercial and 3.0 residential) for an overall gross floor area of 10,474 sq. m.
A pre-application CALUC meeting was held on March 21, 2022. At the time the DRA LUC communicated that the initial public consultation was not met. To date no follow up CALUC meeting has been held. It should be noted that an open house was held prior to the application.
The project has several variances to the Official Community Plan and Downtown Core Area Plan:
Height As noted in the application, the development exceeds height allowed in the DCAP (passed in March 2022) by seven storeys or 25.83m. The application states that smaller floorplates were needed to achieve the heritage goals.
Parking Assuming the project is Strata (which without the commitment of a housing agreement, should be the tenure assumption), the required parking is 106 stalls. Six on-site stalls are proposed. This is a significant concern for the DRA LUC and represents a significant parking burden on the surrounding streets. There is a 25-stall off-site parking lot mentioned, however it is not clear how this will be secured. Additionally, there are Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures mentioned. We recommend these are all secured long term. The transit passes should be included in a development agreement in perpetuity. Car share cars (not only spaces) should also be included in a development agreement.
After considering the TDM reduction of parking stalls, the development is still 22 spaces short of parking (per the table on page 12 of the Letter from the applicant to Mayor and Council). The DRA LUC recommends a cash-in-lieu charge of $10,000-$50,000 (potentially higher based on costs of construction replacement parking stalls) based on the cost of parking stalls and similar municipalities cash-in-lieu policies.
Heritage The DRA LUC has concerns that the building does not conform to the heritage design guidelines. One example is that the addition to the existing heritage is supposed to be subordinate to the proposed building. That is certainly not the case, with the large tower on top of the existing heritage. It should be noted that due to little heritage conversion value derived from this project, it is the belief of the DRA LUC that it should still be subject to the inclusionary housing policy.
The DRA LUC looks forward to working with the applicant and the city to resolve the conflicts stated above. Sincerely, Jordan Royer Co-Chair Land Use Committee, Downtown Residents Association