District of West Vancouver staff is asking council to reject the developer’s ask for additional storeys on a rental apartment building proposed at 703-723 Main Street, previously known as 752 Marine Drive.
In June last year, the previous council approved rezoning for the former White Spot site to allow 203 rental apartments for Gateway Residences proposed by Park Royal and Larco.
The developers are back asking for extra storeys to accommodate 95 more units. They want to add five more storeys to each of the two building, increasing the height of the East Tower from 14 to 19 storeys, and West Tower from 11 to 16 storeys.
The developer is offering 119 additional bicycle parking storage units, but no extra car parking, lowering the parking stalls ratio of cars to units to 0.57. “This is a unique proposition in West Vancouver and puts the Gateway Residences at the lowest parking ratio on the North Shore and one of the lowest in Metro Vancouver,” the developer state in a revised application.
Developers claim they have received positive feedback from the community on the new proposal. The majority of new units offer two-bedrooms and two-bathrooms and will provide additional housing for families with school-ages children, downsizers, working class professionals, and increase the number of missing middle and infill housing, they say.
The developers are also willing to provide additional funding in Community Amenity Contributions to upgrade arts facilities in the district.
District staff, however, isn’t convinced granting extra storeys is a good idea for two reasons: The new proposal is inconsistent with the Marine Drive Local Area Plan and staff is concerned with the scale and form of building.
The proposal to add more units undermines the ‘urban design narrative’ and will create a monotonous, rather than a varied skyline. The extra five storeys would also impact the public views, according to the staff report. Generally, more height can be supported only if the building plates are smaller, resulting in a slender building that could mitigate the impact the height would have on views and shadows. That is not the case with the new plans.
“Adding more height to what is already a ‘bulkier’ building form is not recommended,” staff notes.
The proposal is also not consistent with the recently approved Marine Drive Local Area Plan. In fact, the development that was approved by previous council was the first development considered under that plan and designed in response to it.
“During the planning process, and based on community feedback, council specifically directed staff to reduce the proposed height on the subject site.”
Staff acknowledged, however, that council may change plans overtime keeping in view the changing needs of the community, but not in a plan that has been recently approved.
Council will debate and vote on the new proposal at a council meeting on July 22.