From the Downtown Waterfront Working Group:
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 proposed site is not a separate building lot and far too small to accommodate a giant office building. The building, dubbed the Icepick, was turned down at City Hall in 2015, following wide-spread objections from neighbours and the public.
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 May 25, 2020.
The proposed building is not consistent with the existing 2009 Council-endorsed Central Waterfront Hub Framework. In October 2017, Council approved a program to update the Framework and resolve implementation issues. This work has only just begun.
Does it make sense to put approvals before planning? Should a private developer be able to sabotage a public planning and design process?
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.
Most disturbing, Cadillac Fairview has not agreed to an extension of Granville Street to the waterfront. The developer owns the parkade at the foot of Granville. 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.
As the most important transportation hub in the region, this site is critical to the future of the city.
Surely Vancouver, which prides itself on progressive planning, can find a better solution.
Approving Cadillac Fairview’s latest proposal will preclude the current planning process and seriously undermine future options for the City’s waterfront.
Icepick 2 must to be stopped.
Community Open House & Feedback Session
Tuesday, Feb 18
3 –7 pm
Fairmont Waterfront Hotel
900 Canada Place, Mackenzie Ballroom
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