Good evening Mayor Mussato and Councillors,
My name is Marc Pedersen and I currently reside at …North Vancouver. Tonight, I am speaking on behalf of North Vancouver City Voices.
City Voices has comments and concerns in regards to this proposed development on several fronts – first, the history and process as to how this development application has come to be where it is tonight, second, the community amenity contributions, and third, the massing of the proposed building.
As most of you do know, but many in the gallery may not, the site was initially owned by Millennium Properties. Millennium eventually had to post it as security to the City of Vancouver when facing their financial woes at their Olympic Village project on the south shores of False Creek. The City of Vancouver ultimately took title of the property at put it up for sale, represented in the offering documents as commercial use – ‘Service Industrial’ to be specific. On this land use basis, we believe the property had an assessed value of approximately $20 million.
We believe Polygon purchased the property for approximately $33 million – $13 million over the assessed value. The only reason we believe a developer would pay such a premium would be speculation – no, expectation – that the City of North Vancouver would be amenable to a rezoning to accommodate residential uses. So it seems to us that the City of Vancouver – across the harbour there – essentially benefitted in many of the same ways that land developers have in our local neighborhoods – by an expectation that the sky’s the limit for residential development in the City of North Vancouver.
So while the City of Vancouver has enjoyed a $13 million premium on the sale of their property, and Polygon is sure to expect windfall gains by building 5 floors of 200 residential units atop 2 floors of commercial space should their rezoning application be approved, what are the local rate payers getting back in exchange for the change in land use designation? As we understand it – nothing.
We do acknowledge that Polygon is offering a 25% discount on leases for non-profit organizations as the amenity on their 15,000 square feet of additional floor space. But where are the amenities or density bonus fund contributions, once again, in strict exchange for what would be a significant lift in land value should the site be rezoned mixed used allowing for residential?
Our guess is that for their part, Polygon, would argue that the economics in the development do not support significant amenity contributions to the City. We hear that time and time again. But let’s not guess, let’s ask them – demand them for fair exchange.
We also have concerns about the massing of the proposed buildings. We note that the proposed 52.5 foot height of the buildings is consistent with current height limitations, but the buildings’ height is being measured at the higher West 1st elevation.
We ask why the height is not being measured from mid-grade? It’s a total of a 25 foot drop from the northeast corner of the property to the southeast corner. All of this means that the building height on the Esplanade frontage will be 77.5 feet. A 77 foot wall of condominiums fronting what is supposed to be a pedestrian friendly commercial space. Let’s learn from the best example of how NOT to build a lively and inviting streetscape – just down the street on East Esplanade where concrete towers front plain, lifeless sidewalks.
Further to this, the photo on the attachment 2 fact sheet illustrates a little bit of a setback of the residential behind the commercial such that there is not too much of a wall of condos right up against the Esplanade sidewalk. However, detailed drawings later in the document featuring east and west elevation views do not show any sort of setback. We’d appreciate clarification on the amount of setback.
Finally, Voices asks do we really need more housing on Esplanade? As I speak tonight, we estimate that well over half of the units in the Pinnacle buildings continue to be dark – lights off, drapes closed. BC Hydro’s best customers practising energy conservation? We don’t think so. Clearly, the developers expensive housing solutions on Esplanade aren’t addressing affordable housing issues for those who want to live here.
We are in support of the redevelopment of the site in concept, but North Vancouver City Voices asks council to reject this current proposal.