KENNETH CHAN (DAILY HIVE) - An architecturally unique residential tower has been proposed for the westernmost end of main arterial thoroughfare section of West Broadway– at the corner of the intersection of Alma Street and West Broadway.
Local developer Westbank has revised its proposal for the amalgamated lot at 3701-3743 West Broadway into a 14-storey rental housing tower under the municipal government’s Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP).
Currently, the northwest location is the site of a strip mall, home to True Confections.
The property will be adjacent to a future subway station of the Millennium Line’s future continued extension to UBC. Its proposed height will make it one of the tallest buildings in the West Point Grey neighbourhood.
During an open house today (May 16), the developer unveiled a new concept designed by Leckie Studio Architecture + Design that entails 154 rental homes, including 31 moderate income homes; a unit mix of eight studio units, 12 one-bedroom units, eight two-bedroom units, and three three-bedroom units.
The remaining 123 homes will be market rental units, with the unit mix entailing 37 studio units, 43 one-bedroom units, 35 two-bedroom units, and eight three-bedroom units. Another two market rental townhouse units on the ground level will front the building’s rear on West Broadway.
Under the MIRHPP, 100% of the residential floor area of the proposed building must be utilized as secured rental housing, and at least 20% of the residential floor area must be made available to moderate income households earning between $30,000 and $80,000 per year.
The building’s ground-level frontage along Alma Street will be utilized as 5,325 sq. ft. of high-ceiling retail/restaurant space, complete with a garage door-like retractable curtain glass wall, meant to provide the capability of creating a seasonal, seamless indoor-outdoor dining area.
As for the architectural concept, the facade will be clad with phenolic resin panels, providing the exterior with a brownish red appearance. This building material is relatively new to the local construction industry, and it was recently used for the exterior of the Tall Wood Building of the UBC Brock Residence.
There will also be fins to create solar shading, with windows punctured in the spaces between the fins.
The form of the building is stepped to address shadowing concerns and to create private outdoor terraces. Indoor and outdoor communal amenity spaces will also be offered, including an outdoor rooftop space with a lounge, dining area, and children’s play area.
The intention of the overall concept is to provide an iconic visual landmark for the end of West Broadway, before the road transitions into a local neighbourhood side street.
Due to parking requirement relaxations allowed by the MIRHPP, and the site’s adjacency to the future subway, only 74 vehicle parking stalls within underground levels are proposed for this design.
The total floor area of the proposal is about 125,000 sq. ft. With a lot size of 23,234 sq. ft., the floor space ratio (FSR) density of the project is 5.4 times the size of its lot.
The project is not affected by city council’s recent decision to extend the Broadway Plan’s temporary moratorium on most types of market-oriented rezoning applications into the Kitsilano and Point Grey areas, as this application will be an amendment to the developer’s 2017-submitted rezoning application for the property.
No formal changes have been made to the application at this time, but it is anticipated soon – given that proposals falling under the MIRHPP must be submitted to the city prior to the July 1 deadline of the pilot program.
This new design is a significant departure from the previous application, which was designed by Henriquez Partners Architects.
It was far less ambitious in both scale and design; it called for only six-storey building, although there would be engineered provisions to allow for a future vertical extension of the structure to roughly double its height. This original concept would have 94 secured market rental units, 7,200 sq. ft. of retail space, and 99 vehicle parking stalls. The FSR density was lower at 3.15 times the size of its lot.
STEVE RANDALL (REP MAG) - The Bank of Canada will make two interest rate cuts during 2019 according to Capital Economics.
That’s because BoC governor Stephen Poloz may have underestimated the downturn in the housing market and the wider impact to the economy, senior economist for Canada Stephen Brown told BNN Bloomberg.
He said that with condo presales in Toronto and Vancouver in 2018, developers have found it harder to secure investment in new projects. That, says Brown, is likely to have an impact on employment and consumption, making a big dent in the country’s output.
“Condo developers have to sell about 70% of the units in their condo before they start construction, in order to secure financing,” Brown said. “So the current housing starts represent homes that were actually sold, as pre-construction units, around 18 months ago.”
He noted that the figures he’s looking at are niche and not being widely considered.
On interest rates, Brown and his team are forecasting a drop this year to 1.25% from the current 1.75% which will be facilitated over two rate cuts.
PETE EVANS (CBC NEWS) - The Bank of Canada kept its benchmark interest rate at 1.75 per cent on Wednesday.
Economists who monitor the bank weren't expecting any change to the rate, which the central bank meets to decide on every six weeks.
The bank tends to cut its rate when it wants to stimulate the economy, and hikes it when it wants to slow down an overheated one.
"Growth during the first half of 2019 is now expected to be slower than was anticipated in January," which is why the bank is keeping its rate low, to help stimulate the economy, it said.
In January, the bank was expecting Canada's economy to grow by 1.7 per cent this year. On Wednesday, it downgraded that lukewarm forecast to a chillier 1.2 per cent.
Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz did add, however, that the bank expects the latter half of the year to be better than the first.
"Right now, we believe that this setting of interest rates will give us the outlook that ... growth picks up in the second quarter, and picks up for real in the third quarter for the second half of the year," he said.
Nonetheless, an economy that's on track to grow by less than the current inflation rate is a recipe for low rates, which is why "an accommodative policy interest rate continues to be warranted," the bank said.
The central bank's rate impacts Canadians by influencing the rates that retail banks give to savers and borrowers on products like mortgages and savings accounts.
"Anyone with a variable rate mortgage should be pleased with this announcement because it diminishes the timing and likelihood of any increase to the prime rate," said James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and president of mortgage brokerage CanWise Financial.
"This announcement also provides some pressure relief to those considering entering the housing market, as they should expect fixed rates to remain stable through the spring and summer homebuying season," Laird added.
The latest figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association suggest average prices for homes are now falling across the country, on an annual basis, after years of outsized gains.
The bleak outlook caused the value of the Canadian dollar to drop to a three-month low of just under 74 cents US, before recovering somewhat on Poloz's comments.
"The bank's pivot away from its hiking bias was sharper than expected today, leaving the Canadian dollar trading weaker and yields lower on the day," CIBC economist Royce Mendes said.
Trading in investments known as overnight index swaps imply there's now zero chance of a rate hike this year. Traders think there's about a 10 per cent chance of a cut as early as next month, and by September those odds jump to more than one in three.
Economist Stephen Brown with Capital Economics said "although the bank's tone might therefore become more positive at the next couple of meetings if the data come in better than officials expect, we still think the bank's next move will be to cut interest rates, in the second half of the year."
Andrew Kelvin, senior rates strategist at TD Bank, said he also thinks the bank is done with rate hikes. "This just sounds like a central bank that is coming to grips with the fact that 1.75 per cent will be the top of this policy cycle," he said.
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