From Zero To Hero – Moderate Income Rental Homes Given Room To Succeed

2406-2484 Renfrew St
The Urban Design Panel is known for striking fear into the hearts of even the most confident applicant teams, yet this was the first time in a long while I’ve felt anxious about attending a meeting. I would like to think that’s understandable, as this was the first in-person event since March 4, 2020, and although Hannah and I are double vaccinated, it was unnerving to think about being stuck in a room full of strangers for hours on end.

Undeterred, I pressed on past security guards, hand sanitizer stations, and an alien invader, all in an effort to see the latest version of this proposal under the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program. I was driven by curiosity, as this was the first application under that program that the panel had ever requested to be resubmitted, and their recommendations called for substantial alternations. To say I was let down by what I saw would be an understatement.

Apparently senior city staff had expected the provincial order that allowed digital meetings would be extended, meaning proponent teams were given little notice about the need for physical presentations. That meant there won’t be display boards, let alone scale models, for weeks to come as the latter takes significant time to manufacture. So, rather than sitting in a comfortable seat, I was forced to stand awkwardly snapping photos of a digital slideshow displayed on a projector.

Like this body’s prior criticism, my patience was rewarded as it was soon revealed this design had undergone a significant change. The decision to split this structure into two couldn’t have been easy, but the courtyard that now divides this tower and podium was met with wide spread approval. Not only did these volunteers feel it drastically improved the public realm, it was also viewed by many as helping the project fit better with the neighbourhood context.

That the homes that would have been eliminated by this gap had been saved by adding two floors to the tower troubled a landscape architect. However, this was dismissed by those who felt this was a good trade given the proximity to the Renfrew SkyTrain station, and the Metro Vancouver Industrial Lands. Arguably the only fear about height was the trees that were now possible in the courtyard, as they might shadow the podium’s homes.

Another member suggested pulling back the parking garage to allow for more landscaping, and the only other critique was whether the ramps to the courtyard wobbled too much. Granted, the panelists remarks were somewhat limited by AIBC Bulletin 65, 6.7.1, yet they were clearly satisfied by these changes, and unanimously approved a motion of support without any recommendations. That result proves that it only takes a couple comments to make a real difference, so make sure to leave yours here.

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

Applicant Team Information:

Developer Epta Development Corporation (EDC)
Architects – Studio One Architecture Inc
Landscape Architects – ETA Landscape Architecture

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