610 – 644 Kingsway
When Hannah and I first learned of this building we were both happy to see the 53 new rental homes and stores were coming to the neighbourhood. However, while Hannah thought it was good looking building, I was less sure about its design. After attending the open house and seeing the community embrace the building, my opinion changed. Still, as attendance was quite low, I wondered if the UDP would be as accepting.
While I arrived to the meeting about twenty minutes late, I was just in time to hear the applicant explain they had tried to, but were unable to reach an agreement to purchase the neighbouring 648 Kingsway building, which is over 100 years old. In their consensus, the panel felt that a set back to this unofficial heritage building was not needed, as the pace of change for the neighbourhood meant that it was only a matter of time before it would be redeveloped. The panel’s consensus noted that it was difficult for any building in this area to relate to one another, as there’s no current area plan. That said, it was felt this building would set a good tone for future development, though one member wished the corner would have been a bit more prominent.
All but one of the panel’s recommendations were straight forward. They were simple considerations for more design development of the materiality and landscaping of the laneway, while another was to improve the public realm of the storefronts. As the panel was about to vote, a member spoke up requesting an additional recommendation be added to the list. This consideration was very unusual, as it was directed towards Vancouver’s engineering department instead of the applicant team. The panel member felt that East 15th between Kingsway and Carolina should be permanently closed in order to simplify traffic patterns, and help facilitate a better public realm in front of the new building. After a quick discussion on whether the panel had the authority to make that request, it was decided that it was within the panel’s purview to issue that advisory opinion, and was included as a recommendation.
Much like the neighbourhood, I think the panel recognized the benefits this proposal could bring to this location. Make sure to let the City know what you think of this project, and the panel’s idea of creating a better public space, by sharing your opinion here.