8460 Ash St and 8495 Cambie St (Ashley Mar Co-op Site)
In the time that’s passed since Hannah and I last attended an event about the future of the Ashley Mar Co-op, an adorable newborn would be well into their terrible twos. This vision has grown too, as while the co-op’s future home remains 15 floors tall, the two buildings that will pay for it have evolved several times. So far that hasn’t been controversial, however the Urban Design Panel were surprised this pair now reach 27 and 30 floors.
City staff explained that wasn’t done in a one-off manner, and that under the Marine Landing Review they’ll see something similar later in April with the redevelopment of the Denny’s to the west. That policy still has to be approved by city council, but last year they signed off on the issues report that allows for this to be explored. That came with a condition, as these forms now offer rental housing instead of home ownership.
There were several other considerations, as the required 80 foot distance between buildings has been met, and unlike the Marine Drive Station, Ash Park remains unaffected by any new shadowing. The applicant admitted that the Canada Line did pose some acoustic challenges, and they were continuing to work on them. One such measure is the green wall that shields one of the many amenity areas, which like the ample amount on the rooftops, seemed to impress these volunteers.
Yet they felt the architecture needed more work as it didn’t relate to this area’s industrial character, or the proximity of the Fraser River. Rather than mark this as an important entrance to our city, it seemed like something that could be found anywhere, at least in the small area of Vancouver that allows it. They suggested a less formal look would be more appropriate, and hoped each member in this family could express more of their own identity.
This led to a recommendation to consider variation to the towers form and orientation, with one suggesting the one on Cambie should be rotated to have a north / south response. The applicant admitted they had debated this, and struggled with the mid-block connection due the site’s slope. On the east side, the 9 meter difference has raised the townhomes along that pedestrian way almost a floor into the air in order to allow access to the underground parking garage.
The 6 meter difference along Ash Street isn’t much easier to accommodate, and had the loading bays been located underground, it would have been far worse. As it is, their location has created another amenity area that a few members hoped could be split between residents of the northwest rental building, and the residents in the southwest tower. That will include the Ashley Mar Co-op who will retain ownership of the “dirt” itself, and manage the new social housing apartments.
This combination of homes, and the amenities of the area made it easy for the panel to support the height, massing and density proposed, though the public realm was another story. They did appreciate that so many of the existing trees were being preserved, and acknowledged the width of the mid-block connection would double when the property to the south was eventually redeveloped. That said, this wasn’t enough to stop their concern from matching the history of this application.
It was one member’s last minute plea that further expanded this recommendation to call for design development to the public realm, the architecture at the mid-block connector, as well as all building faces. City staff revealed no matter what happened, this proposal will return for review at the Development Application stage, but that didn’t stop it from earning the panel’s unanimous support. Of course, first it needs city council’s approval, who’s opinion you can influence if you leave your thoughts here.
You can view more images from this meeting here on our Instagram.
Applicant Team Information: