The NO TOWER Coalition today issued the following media statement:
COMMUNITY PROPOSES VIABLE AND CREATIVE ALTERNATIVE TO MASSIVE TOWER PROPOSAL AT VENABLES AND COMMERCIAL
Vancouver. The NO TOWER Coalition is proposing a viable and creative alternative to a massive three-tower development under discussion in the Grandview-Woodland community.
The alternative would see the City of Vancouver provide available land (a city-owned parking lot on the site) to the Kettle Friendship Society as an outright grant. The Kettle would sell its existing building (also on the site) and use the proceeds to construct up to 25,000 square feet of community service and housing space, on the land, provided free by the city.
Estimates put the cost of a 25,000 square foot, four-storey structure, with service space and 30 small units of supportive housing at $5.2 million, excluding land costs. The Kettle’s current building was assessed in 2015 at $2,068,000 million. The city parking lot was assessed in 2015 at $2,259,000.
“We have looked carefully at the footprint,” says Sue Garber, a NO TOWER spokesperson. “The City of Vancouver and the Kettle together own over half the total square footage of the land in question. With the city contribution, this approach could work very well.”
“We think this is a very viable alternative. And it is much preferable to public land being turned over to a developer for tremendous profit, with so many unfortunate impacts on the neighbouring community. These lands are currently in community hands. They should stay that way,” Garber notes.
“This alternative would provide the Kettle what it needs and would spare the Commercial Drive community from the devastating effects of a massive three-tower complex, with associated rising land costs and displacement of nearby rental and non-profit housing.”
The proposal also suggests the adjoining street be permanently closed to car traffic for a pedestrian “piazza” which would extend the low-rise and human scale of Commercial Drive north towards the renovated York Theatre and Hastings Street.
The Coalition also released the following additional notes:
Thoughts on Financing the Kettle Alternative:
- The city would donate the parking lot land to the Kettle (assessed value: $2.259 million).
- The Kettle would sell its existing building on Venables and use the proceeds to partially finance the construction of a new building (assessed value of Kettle’s existing building and land $2.068 million).
- Estimated cost (excluding land) for a 25,000 square foot, four storey building to house the Kettle’s needs (on city parking lot) estimated at $5.2 million.
- The province of BC and the federal government may provide $$ based on the city coming forward with its contribution of land.
- A lender would be able to lend a substantial amount to the Kettle project, based on the asset value of the city parking lot land and the Kettle land.
- The city’s donation of the land to the Kettle would kickstart the whole process.
- Upon completion of the new four-storey Kettle building on the parking lot, there would be a considerable value lift available to the Kettle.
- The final Kettle building would be an asset of considerable value, likely much more than what they started out with.
- Going forward and into the future, the Kettle would be “masters in their own house” and in charge of their own destiny. They would not be forever dependent on a developer for their future, and locked into a condo tower they could never modify or change.
- The Kettle and the city have already demonstrated such a partnership at 1700 Kingsway in Vancouver, where city land was provided for supportive housing for the Kettle. (This building is currently under construction.)