Architecture
November 16, 2020

The Icepick is Back


In 2015, Toronto-based developer Cadillac Fairview attempted to get approval for a 26=storey office building at 555 Cordova, shoe-horned up against the east side of Waterfront Station in Vancouver. (Cadillac Fairview owns Waterfront Station, and the proposed building site has been the eastern access and parking lot for the Station since it opened in 1914.)

The building, dubbed the Icepick, was withdrawn in 2015, following wide-spread concerns expressed by the Urban Design Panel and the public.  The proposed site is not a separate building lot and far too small to accommodate a giant office building.

Now Cadillac Fairview is back with Icepick 2, a slightly revised version of the original. Responding to design objections, the developer rotated and pushed the building a little further west and north, slightly reduced its footprint, and made it possible to see and walk through the ground floor.

With these changes, the developer seems intent on getting approval at a Development Permit Board Meeting scheduled for March 22, 2021.

It’s important to know that that in 2009, Council-endorsed Central Waterfront Hub Framework to deal comprehensively with the many issues in this part of the city – our most important transportation hub and a last remaining part of the waterfront still to be connected to the publicly accessible

Because the proposed building is not consistent the Hub Framework, in October 2017, Council approved a program to update the Framework and resolve implementation issues. This work is in progress.

The proposal does not conform to planning guidelines for the area. The most recent proposed building is more than twice the suggested height of 11 stories, and six times the recommended floor space. It overwhelms heritage buildings on either side and provides an uninviting gateway to Historic Gastown.

The Hub Framework requires removing the top of the garage at the end of Granville to provide views of the ocean, mountains, cruise ships and access to a public walkway along the north side of the city.  Cadillac Fairview owns the parkade at the foot of Granville but has not agreed to an extension of Granville Street to the waterfront.

Removing part of the parkade’s top level was a central concept of the original Hub Framework. It would open the street to the waterfront, and provide an opportunity to build a public walkway connecting Stanley Park, the waterfront, Gastown, Chinatown and False Creek. This space at the entrance to Gastown would also make a splendid public plaza.  As the most important transportation hub in the region, this site is critical to the future of the city.

Approving Cadillac Fairview’s latest proposal will preclude the current planning process and seriously undermine future options for the City’s waterfront.  Does it make sense to put approvals before planning? Should a private developer be able to sabotage a public planning and design process?

You can send your views to the Mayor and Council, and to the Development Permit Board through kaveh.imani@vancouver.ca.  And you can send your comments to https://shapeyourcity.ca/555-w-cordova-st.

From notes provided by the Downtown Waterfront Working Group

Read more »
September 16, 2019

Via Durning, a  gentle black-and-white video from the CBC Vancouver program the 7 O’CLOCK SHOW special series on “Urbanism.”  (Click title for video.)

This footage depicts the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver (near the Port) Gastown and the Downtown Eastside area of Vancouver.*

Older buildings (many vacant) on Alexander, Columbia, Carrall and Powell Streets are featured. In 1964 this was an area of the city in transition, where heritage buildings were neglected and vulnerable to idea of modernism.

*In the days when it was necessary to inform people where Gastown was, and before part of it was renamed the Downtown East Side.  And in the days when the fabled ‘7-O’clock Show’ would commission and run a visual essay without narration.

Read more »
August 7, 2017

Found on the corner of Abbott St and W Hastings St, in a parking lot adjacent to the Woodward’s development.

The proposed rezoning details are reflective of Vancouver’s Rental 100 Policy:

  • 132 units of secured market rental housing
  • commercial space on the ground floor
  • a floor space ratio of 7.62
  • 74 vehicle parking spaces
  • 167 bicycle parking spaces
  • a building height of 32m

The policy provides relaxations to developers who choose to build 100% secured market rental housing in defined locations. This incentive forms part of the City’s  2012-2021 Housing and Homelessness Strategy, which “identified the need for an additional 16,000 new units of rental housing, of which 5,000 are from purpose-built market rental units.”
In addition, the Strategy “sets aggressive targets for social housing (5,000 units by 2021) and supportive housing to end homelessness (2,900 units by 2021). The City is currently revising the Housing Strategy, noting targets exceeding those set in the current plan.
The Rental 100 Policy and it’s predecessor have been contentious – as illustrated by the court battle between the City and the West End Neighbours Residents Society. There is an open house for the West Hastings Rezoning from 5 to 8 pm on Thursday, January 26, 2017 at Vancouver Community College, Room 240.

Read more »

Two related Gastown items:

First: the City of Vancouver wants to talk about the proposed redesign of this historic place — Blood Alley Square and Trounce Alley.  The design work will be by Enns Gauthier (consultants).

  •   Wednesday June 1, 2016  4-7 pm
  • Saturday  June 4, 2016  11 am – 2 pm.

Location:  Blood Alley Square

 

Second: Westbank Projects and Henriquez Partners Architects are seeking approval for a new 11-storey structure around 33 West Cordova. Thanks to Kenneth Chan at VanCity Buzz (and to Ian for the tip).

There will be a total of 214 rental units in the 163,000-square-foot redevelopment, including 80 social housing units and 134 secured market rental units.

On the ground level, a number of retail and restaurant units are planned, including a wine bar, with frontages on both Cordova Street and Blood Alley, which will receive a new southern frontage as a result of the project.

A large cabaret and entertainment venue in the underground level could provide much-needed additional foot traffic into Blood Alley, where the entrance into the venue is located.

 

Read more »