Like Day and Night – Fraser Street Rental Homes Defy CityDuo’s Expectations

3429-3469 Fraser Street
Darren and I generally know what to expect when we attend an open house for a 6 storey rental building. These proposals tend to have similar designs and bring out a small crowd, usually with one or two people opposed. Essentially, they are the new Vancouver Special. The above description certainly captured the feel of this project’s pre-application open house, but the city led event shook things up.

The property is still the same, meaning the Pie Hole and several other restaurants are/will be relocating. That is true for the venue too, as, ironically, Glad Tidings Church itself is also posed for redevelopment. Naturally, some are concerned this growth will increase traffic, and affect the safety of their laneway homes. While others had set up a table out front to voice their displeasure that any development was allowed before The City Plan was approved.

One of their members spent most of the time we were there engaged in a spirited debate with several individuals. They complained these buildings were killing the neighbourhood’s retail experience, as all that was replacing these local businesses were chiropractor and physiotherapy offices. It was a first for us, and we listened as they demanded a big box grocery store be allowed into the neighbourhood before any more residents were.

This led to a drawn out conversation where others tried to explain that a large chain would only be interested if there was sufficient density. It felt like watching two people argue which came first, the chicken or the egg; no matter what was said, the individual remained firm that new large retail was needed first. They even suggested it should be subsidized with public funds if necessary.


Left – Pre-Application Version / Right – March 2019 Version -Source

That request is certainly ironic, given the outcry over $12 million in federal funding Loblaws has recieved to upgrade their refrigerators. Needless to say, even before this story broke, the idea still gave Darren and I a few chuckles, so it took us awhile to notice the large changes the project had seen.

Once again, that is somewhat unusual. Frankly, the turn out at the previous event was pretty positive, so we are not sure why the applicant team has gone in such a different direction. The general shape has not changed much, and there is still a very respectful transition to the single family neighbours to the west. However, instead of a dark two storey cap on a white base, they have inverted the colour scheme to one more typical of these buildings; white on top to blend the upper floors into the sky.

There are plenty of other changes, as the balconies have a slightly stronger presence, and the upper floors have lost much of their bulky weather protection. The street level also had some alterations, as instead of carrying the strong columns of brick to the ground, it now has a sleek, minimalistic feel. Unfortunately, the awnings have been cut back here as well.

This time we were able to see what the building’s private amenity space will look like, and it is clearly skillfully handled. Even the project’s biggest critics agreed that, between the stepped down mass and the ample amount of green landscaping, this aspect was easily supportable. It is hard to argue that the renters who will call this building home will have both privacy and a great place to relax.

Of course, this will only happen if city council approves this application, and public feedback could see the design changed yet again. So, whether you want to see additional tweaks, or think these rental homes should be approved as soon as possible, make sure to make your thoughts heard here.

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