Urban Design Panel Splits As Shadowy Illusions Make A Mountain Out Of Mole Hill

1116 Pendrell St (DP-2020-00054)
While I may not have attended as many Urban Design Panel meetings as Darren, even I knew what the main sticking point was going to be for this project. It certainly was not the contextual fit, as city staff admitted this expression can be found in many areas of the West End. Rather, despite the area’s tall buildings, the concern was the proposed height, as this property sits across from the 28 heritage houses that make up Mole Hill.

The applicant believed their taller, thinner vision was much more respectful than the short and stocky form prescribed in the West End Community Plan, but the panel was divided. Unfortunately, some of these professionals remained perplexed by the “tower in the park” terminology, and one questioned how that could be accurate when Nelson Park is two blocks away. Worse yet, is this led to considerable concern from others about the effect this building’s shadows would have on that public space.

Bottom Centre – 1116 Pendrell Street

That misunderstanding was never resolved, as this issue plagued the applicants throughout the evening, and they tried one last time to address it in their closing remarks. Their efforts proved unsuccessful, as the first recommendation called for design development to the top of the tower to further sculpt the north side to mitigate shadow impacts on the adjacent neighbourhood. This community’s feedback was of particular interest to a couple members, and they questioned whether any had actually been sought.

The design team sounded somewhat insulted by this, and explained that they had reached out to the residents of Mole Hill, and held an info session at a nearby church back in January. Understandably, one of the biggest questions was what would happen to the existing renters, and their homes. The Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy will ensure the former are looked after, and another policy requires the latter be replaced, but their new appearance upset several on the panel.

Described as the tower’s “poorer cousins,” some felt their inclusion was little more than a blatant attempt to achieve more density at the expense of the desired green space. These comments were eventually summarized in a recommendation for more design development to the low-rise rental form, expression, materiality, and scale, and better relate to neighbourhood and the tower. That said, everyone supported the public connections they allowed for, and commended the appealing landscaping efforts.

Nonetheless, a narrow majority believed these features could still be accomplished with a shorter mid-rise building, and dismissed the benefit of the eastern building’s in-home daycare suite. In their view, any deviation from the existing zoning should be earned with public benefits, and the bar for strata housing was far higher than that of a rental proposal. They claimed this was always a struggle, much like the shadows on Mole Hill and “Nelson Park” (sic – as noted there is no impact on the park), lamenting that more studies were not included.

Given how fast night comes on a cold December evening, I doubt anyone would notice a few extra minutes of shade, but city staff promised to raise this desire with the assistant director of planning. That effort will come too late for this proposal though, as a motion of support was narrowly defeated in a 5 -4 vote, with the chair indicating they would have cast their lot against it had there been a tie.

This convinced one person to switch sides, and a motion for re-submission was approved by a 7 – 3 margin. The lone instruction was to address all of the night’s commentary, which is as murky as this project’s future. That was to be determined by the Development Permit Board on February 8, 2021, but this decision might delay that. As such, you can find out when you can leave your thoughts by contacting project facilitator Payam Fouladianpour at payam.fouladianpour@vancouver.ca or 604-873-7663.

You can view all of our photos from this meeting here on our Instagram.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer Skyllen Pacific Real Estate Ltd
Architects – W. T. Leung Architects Inc.
Landscape Architects – ETA Landscape Architecture

One thought on “Urban Design Panel Splits As Shadowy Illusions Make A Mountain Out Of Mole Hill

Add yours

  1. Interestingly, no-one from this project has ever contacted Mole Hill Community Housing Society. However, a few dozen residents from Mole Hill completed the online questionnaire – and a questionairre was completed by myself as E.D. of the Society. Hopefully those comments were communicated to the panel.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: