SAM COOPER (PROVINCE) - Vancouver is moving toward zoning that would allow condo towers to be built without parking stalls, planners say.
The move would allow developments similar to an existing condo in Toronto and a proposed one in Calgary, in buildings pitched at young professionals who increasingly tend to live car-free.
Vancouver has minimum parking requirements for residential buildings, but city staff are “exploring (no-car condo) opportunities in line with what Calgary is looking at,” a spokeswoman said Thursday.
The new Transportation 2040 plan adopted by council provides guidance to eliminate parking requirements downtown and near rapid transit stations, but gives no timeline on when the changes will be considered.
“I’d love to see more parking-free buildings,” Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former head planner, told The Province.
“Where to build them, though, is all about the neighbourhood. They wouldn’t work just anywhere — they need walking, biking and transit to be inviting options.”
Tsur Somerville, director of UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, said that with Vancouver council’s “greenest-city” goals he would have expected the parking minimums to be eliminated already.
“Certainly evidence in the U.S. is that among millennials, car ownership and driver’s registration is way down,” Somerville said.
“I think there is a lot to suggest that there is a group of young people, that cars are just not part of the lifestyle they are thinking of.”
Removing underground parking can slice about $40,000 off the price of a unit, which would help Vancouver tackle its housing affordability problem, Somerville said.
One risk to building car-free condos is that units could be seen as more difficult to resell. Investors who are interested in “liquidity” — the ability to rapidly sell a unit — might not be as interested in a no-parking-stall unit, Somerville said.
Michael Geller, a Vancouver developer and architect, said developers increasingly are seeing parking-stall and non-parking-stall buyers as distinct markets.
“Historically, developers have always sold condos with parking spaces, but we are now starting to sell the spaces separately,” he said.
“My line for the last 20 years has been, we should take all our minimum standards for parking, and turn that overnight into maximum standards.”
VANCITY BUZZ - Marpole, the South West Vancouver neighbourhood, is on the cusp of transitioning into a vibrant community but some challenges must be addressed to ensure that its quality of life continues to flourish.
The neighbourhood will have to deal with a growing population, increased issues around housing affordability, aging community facilities, and transportation infrastructure. Density is something that is coming to all Vancouver neighbourhoods as the city has no other recourse but to densify and build upwards to accommodate expected growth in a sustainable way and enact policy that focuses on the big regional picture rather than merely a local neighbourhood one.
Marpole is a riverfront community located in the south of Vancouver’s west side, bounded by Angus drive, West 57th Avenue, Ontario street, and the Fraser River. It comprises of 1,386 acres (561 hectares), making up about 5 per cent of Vancouver’s total land area and is home to about 25,000 people.
Marpole has a population density of 43 people per hectare, which is lower than the citywide average of 54 people per hectare, but about average compared to other neighbourhoods outside the central area of Vancouver.
In 2011, 68 per cent of families in Marpole had children living at home, compared to 58 per cent citywide, and 38 per cent of all households in Marpole had children, compared to 30 per cent citywide.
Marpole residents have a lower median household income and a higher share of residents considered low income than the rest of Vancouver. Within Marpole, renters face the greatest challenges – their median household income is about half the median income of homeowners and 32 per cent of renters spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.
In Marpole, there are approximately 10,100 units of housing within a diversity of types and tenures:
• 55% are apartments
• 56% are rented
• 97% of rental units are protected by Rate of change regulations
• 639 units of social housing (2.6% of the city’s stock)
There are over 4,000 units of relatively affordable market rental housing in Marpole, 85 per cent of which were built prior to 1975.
The new Marpole Community Plan will exclude the Cambie Corridor, which has it’s own plan, and the the industrial lands to the south.
Respecting neighbourhood character while managing growth
New and improved community amenities
A comprehensive Public Benefits Strategy:
Vibrant local shopping area along the Granville High Street
Granville Street serves as the main neighbourhood centre and ‘high street’ for Marpole, with a variety of shops, services, restaurants, and the Marpole Library. The development of the Safeway site at West 70th Avenue is bringing higher buildings to what has been a lower-scale area.
The Granville ‘high street’ will be strengthened and enhanced as a walkable, mixed-use neighbourhood centre with a variety of shops, services, restaurants, and a mix of housing. It will continue to be the social ‘heart’ of Marpole and a welcoming place for Vancouver, distinguished by active street life, public plazas, and infused with references to its Musqueam heritage within the public realm.
The plan calls for mixed use towers between 4 and 12 floors. It will also have strong walking and cycling connections to transit and other key destinations such as schools, shops, parks, and the Fraser River.
Upper Hudson will retain it’s character of single family homes and duplexes while Lower Hudson will be strengthened as a walkable residential area, with a focus on protecting the existing stock of affordable rental housing.
The ‘working village’ feel will be supported by retaining a mix of uses and celebrating the Musqueam heritage and cultural amenities in the area. New walking and cycling routes will improve mobility and access to key destinations in the community, with a focus on parks, shops, community facilities and the Fraser River
Incremental development of new rental housing along West 70th Avenue will be accompanied byimprovements to the pedestrian environment. The commercial and cultural area south of West
72nd Avenue will accommodate growth and encourage the retention and expansion of the unique businesses and facilities. New, strategically located public plazas will create places to gather and soften the streetscape. Lighting, wayfinding and other improvements will improve access to
the Fraser River and create a memorable walking experience.
The architectural character in the Lower Hudson Street area should reflect its diverse past and
eclectic appeal, capturing the spirit of the historic village and current industrial context. Creative gestures and cultural accents are welcomed and encouraged as part of a coherent streetscape composition.
Oak Street will transition to having a more urban residential character with new housing types and an improved overall look and feel. Located in the centre of Marpole, Oak Street at West 67th Avenue will become a focal point for this area, developed as an urban mixed-use “node”, creating a vital connection between east and west Marpole.
The commercial area will be strengthened and enhanced through more prominent mid-rise, mixed-use buildings, including increased retail space at street level and a new urban plaza to help establish a sense of place. Wide sidewalks, street trees and planted boulevards will create a comfortable, safe and attractive walking experience along Oak Street. Existing commercial area at Oak Street and West 67th Avenue Oak sub-area
Additional housing variety, including apartments and townhouses, will be introduced to provide a sensitive transition in scale and height to the surrounding residential areas. West 67th Avenue is a desirable neighbourhood walking and cycling route that connects the Granville shopping area, library, schools and churches to the Canada Line station.
Improvements to the public realm at Oak Street will create a pleasant and memorable place on this popular route through the neighbourhood. The architectural character of the Oak Street area should echo the optimism of its postwar past. Contemporary materials can predominate in combination with traditional materials.
Architectural detailing could reflect the feeling of movement that the automobile era inspired, while providing a comfortable pedestrian scale and rhythm at the street level.
Cambie. The area within a 10 minute walk to the Canada Line will evolve to become a highly walkable, vibrant urban area that responds to its evolving residential context. The mixed-use hub at SW Marine Drive and Cambie Street will also offer new job space, shopping and entertainment uses.
New walking and cycling routes through the neighbourhood will provide safe and attractive connections to transit, shops, parks and other key destinations. Opportunities for additional social housing in this transit-supported area will be provided.
The industrial areas south of SW Marine Drive will be retained and enhanced with employment opportunities on limited and strategically located sites.
BRENT JANG (GLOBE & MAIL) - The million-dollar club isn’t so exclusive in Greater Vancouver, where the average price for single-family detached houses sold has soared to a record high of more than $1.36-million.
Prices surged as total residential sales climbed to 2,530 last month for detached homes, condos and townhouses, up 40.8 per cent from volume of 1,797 properties changing hands in February, 2013, according to data released Tuesday by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.Detached properties have soared in value, rising to an average of $1,361,023 last month, an increase of $139,986, or 11.4 per cent higher than $1,221,037 a year earlier and smashing the previous high of $1,287,213 in January of this year.
But the board cautions that average prices give a skewed picture of the market because sales of many high-end homes boost the figures to well above other transactions that are considered more typical.
The board prefers to focus on the benchmark index price, which strips out the most expensive properties. On that measure, detached index prices reached $932,900 last month, up 3.5 per cent from February, 2013. On Vancouver’s West Side, the detached index price jumped 7.2 per cent to more than $2.14-million.
Over all, the index price hit $609,100 for Greater Vancouver detached houses, condos and townhomes sold on the Multiple Listing Service last month, or a hike of 3.2 per cent over the past year.
Sales volume last month was slightly lower than the 10-year average in what is shaping up to be a balanced market for sales and active listings in 2014, said board president Sandra Wyant.
The B.C. Real Estate Association noted that Ottawa’s shutdown of the federal immigrant investor program last month could reduce sales volume for the most expensive detached homes.
Dan Scarrow, vice-president of corporate strategy at Macdonald Realty Ltd., said he doesn’t think prices will change dramatically over the next several months, as long as interest rates stay low. If there is any slide in the housing market, it will be slow because prices are “sticky on the downside” due to the lack of major economic setbacks such as a huge spike in unemployment to force people to sell, he said.
The attraction of Vancouver remains high, including for wealthy immigrants from China, Mr. Scarrow said.
Greater Vancouver includes the City of Vancouver, the municipalities of West Vancouver and North Vancouver, and also suburbs such as Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and New Westminster.
In the Fraser Valley, which includes the sprawling and less-expensive Vancouver suburb of Surrey, residential sales climbed to 1,102, up 20.7 per cent from February, 2013. The index price for detached homes reached $558,100, up 3.2 per cent from year earlier. Average prices for detached properties rose 9.7 per cent to $644,574 in the Fraser Valley.
The index price for detached houses, condos and townhouses was $428,100 in the Fraser Valley last month, or 1.3 per cent higher than in February, 2013. The average price for those three categories reached $519,082 last month, or a 10-per-cent hike from $471,767 a year earlier.
Updates on Real Estate news happening in your city.