New program to encourage rental housing construction

There’s a new incentive program in Vancouver to encourage developers to build purpose-built rental housing.  There are some seemingly attractive aspects of this program but developers seem more focused on tidier short term profits and these are more quickly realized building condo towers.

Incentives under the new policy will likely be similar to those of the STIR program which included:

•  rental property assessment (on rental units only);
•  development cost levy waiver (on rental units only);
•  parking requirement reductions (on rental units only);
•  discretion on unit size;
•  increased density; and
•  expedited permit processing.

Whether this program will be enough to entice developers to build new rental units is a matter for debate. One thing is certain and that’s there is a shortage of affordable rental housing in this city.

Rize Alliance Development – Public Hearing for Mount Pleasant Tower Proposal

Figure A shows a rendering submitted by the developer. Figure B shows the virtual model created by the City. Figure C shows a rendering created by RAMP. Image courtesy of Openfile.ca

One of the most divisive proposed developments in Vancouver in a long time is currently being considered by Vancouver city council. The Rize Alliance Properties development at Kingsway and Broadway promises to radically change the area where Kingsway, Main and Broadway meet. An article from BC Business is in support of this development and offers some insight into the issues. The original development proposal was more aggressive at 26 stories but has since been scaled back to 19 stories following public opposition. Notice in the renderings above how the building height differs depending on which party it was created by and their particular interest. The rendering closest to reality is likely the one created by the City.

It seems to me that this location is an ideal place to increase density since it’s well-located close to public transportation along the Broadway corridor and is a walk or quick bus ride to two Skytrain lines. The anti-development types are unlikely to be satisfied with any proposal put forward but many Mount Pleasant residents are watching this one closely to see what the City will allow.

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Building permits way up in Vancouver

This just in: Canada-wide building permits are up but Vancouver seems to be the only bright spot for housing starts in BC. This explains why every block in this city seems to have several construction projects underway. Developers are clearly not anticipating any slowdown in the Vancouver market for new homes.