Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Date: December 31, 1999


Author/Local: MHolland/7727


RTS No. 1192


CC File No. 5305


Council: January 18, 2000

TO: Vancouver City Council

FROM: Director of Current Planning

SUBJECT: CD-1 Rezoning - 55-67 East Hastings Street [Lux Theatre site]




Relevant Council policies for this site include:

· May 8, 1989, Council approved a housing objective to maintain and expand housing opportunities in Vancouver for low and moderate income households, with priority being given to Downtown lodging-house residents, elderly people on fixed and limited incomes, physically and mentally disabled people, and single-parent families with children.

· October 17, 1989, Council further resolved to “adopt a broad objective to maintain, upgrade, and increase the existing stock of low-cost housing in the Downtown”.

· July 28, 1998, Council reaffirmed principles to provide general guidance to Downtown Eastside actions and planning, including:


This report assesses an application to rezone 55-67 East Hastings Street, the former Lux Theatre site, from DEOD to CD-1, to permit the development of a nine-storey mixed-use development with 98 non-market dwelling units, three commercial units at grade, and 19 underground parking spaces. A total floor space ratio (FSR) of 4.58 (4.21 residential and 0.37 commercial) is proposed. The rezoning is required to increase the site’s allowable residential density from its current limit of 3.00 FSR.

The new building will provide additional low-income singles housing in the Downtown Eastside. The design of the building will fit well within the historic character of the adjacent buildings and area.

Staff recommend that the application be referred to a Public Hearing, with a recommendation that it be approved subject to conditions outlined in Appendix B.


Funding: This project is a joint initiative between the Province and the City. The City has provided the land and BC Housing will be providing the funding for development.

Use: The site is currently vacant and used as a parking lot. The proposal would add 98 units of non-market housing for low-income singles, thereby increasing the quality of housing in the Downtown Eastside. Council’s policy on dwelling units (Zoning and Development By-law, Section 10.21) sets a minimum standard for unit size at 37 m² (400 sq. ft.), relaxable to 30 m² (320 sq. ft.). The proposed units, ranging in size from 30 to 44 m² (320 to 474 sq. ft.), are self-contained, including kitchens and bathrooms, and as such, are not SROs (single room occupancy). Eight units on the second floor are designed to be fully wheelchair accessible and include easy access to an outside terrace and garden area.

Suites of this size meet a good standard of livability while enabling the City to maximize the number of units developed under the BC Housing subsidy. Many residents of the new building will be coming from existing rooms in other Downtown Eastside rooming houses and residential hotels, including the Central Residence at 42 East Cordova. The Central Residence is currently being evaluated for rehabilitation and upgrading.

Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units in the Downtown Eastside are largely sleeping and housekeeping rooms, ranging in size from 9.3 - 14 m² (100 - 150 sq. ft.) with shared toilets and bathing rooms. In comparison, the proposed 30 m² (320 sq. ft.) studio dwelling units are significantly larger and self-contained and exceed the standards of most SRO units. This proposal attempts to find a balance between livability and affordability. It has received support from many Downtown Eastside housing groups, as well as BC Housing. It will assist in the provision of adequate and affordable housing in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

Three commercial units will be located at grade to provide retail continuity on the street and contribute to the economic revitalization of the neighbourhood. It is proposed, subject to approval of Council, that the retail space be leased back to the City and operated by Real Estates Services. The land use is consistent with Council policy of high density, mixed commercial and residential development for the Main/Hastings sub-area of the DEOD. Commercial uses for these units, as listed in Appendix A, are consistent with the DEOD, compatible with residential and consistent with Council’s policies for the neighbourhood.

Concerns have been voiced by some in the neighbourhood that providing additional non-market housing in the area will slow economic revitalization. Others are concerned with the amount of low-income housing in this neighbourhood, relative to other forms of housing and the supply of non-market housing in other areas of the city. Staff believe the development would be a positive social and economic influence on the neighbourhood and that the commercial units would provide appropriate services and economic opportunities. The proposed building is of high quality design and materials, and will provide a good level of livability, in part due to the self-contained units. The project would be managed by the City's Non-Market Housing Operations Division, which has progressive management policies and security measures proposed for the building. Residents would be capable of independent living. Services are available in the neighbourhood for those residents that need or want them. Services will not be provided in the building, and residents will not be selected on the basis of a need for specialized services. The building will not be a Special Needs Residential Facility (SNRF).

Density: The proposal includes residential uses of 4.21 FSR and commercial/retail uses of 0.37 FSR, totaling 4.58 FSR. The site is presently zoned to allow a maximum of 3.00 FSR residential and an overall maximum for all uses of 5.00 FSR.

There are several reasons to support the increase in residential density on this site:

1. A significant amount of low income housing stock has been lost over the last two decades in the Downtown Eastside. This long term trend is expected to continue. The draft Housing Plan for the area proposes that the supply of low-income housing in the area be stabilized. In this Housing Plan, Hastings and Main Streets have been identified as areas to allow residential density consistent with this proposal. While this policy is under final review by the neighbourhood as part of the Downtown Eastside revitalization strategy, Council's interim policy has been to continue considering housing projects on a site by site basis, and to continue to replace the older low-income (SRO) stock that will be lost. As such, proceeding with replacement non-market housing does not compromise ongoing discussions about policy for the neighbourhood.

2. The increased residential density will be accommodated within a building which meets Council's intent for the area. It is high density and mixed use, while remaining well within the maximum overall density currently allowed on the site. Furthermore, the building design is of high quality, fully compatible with the neighbourhood's character and scale.

3. The additional residential density will allow the City to maximize the non-market dwelling units provided with their land grant, thereby reducing the cost to the taxpayer for each unit by nearly 30%, beyond that possible under the current zoning. The additional density will also facilitate significant economies in operating costs per unit, reducing long term costs.

Form of Development: The proposed nine-storey building (plus underground parking) has been designed to be compatible with the historic character of the neighbourhood. The massing and street facade has a tall centre element, flanked by two smaller ones, one 3 storeys and one 5 storeys, reflecting the neighbourhood’s irregular street wall pattern of 2-10 storey buildings. The taller centre element has been articulated on both the east and west sides, to increase the light available to each unit. Design elements such as cornices and awnings are consistent with the character of the neighbourhood and materials are equally appropriate, including brick and concrete, with wood windows and metal detailing.

The proposed building would affect a view cone of approximately 30 degrees to the southeast, from the Van Horne, a nearby residential development. The proposed building height, at 26.7 m ( 87.6 ft. [or nine storeys]), is within the current limit of 30 m (98.4 ft.) in the DEOD and there is no impact beyond what is allowed under current zoning. As the proposed building’s massing, design, and materials are of high quality and compatible with the neighbourhood character, the building will integrate visually into the existing urban fabric. Staff support the form of development.


Staff support the use, density, and form of development proposed in this application. The proposal will increase the supply of self-contained dwelling units for low-income singles in a manner which will be a positive social influence in the Downtown Eastside and will harmonize with its historic character. Staff recommend that the application be referred to a Public Hearing with a recommendation by the Director of Current Planning to approve it, subject to proposed conditions of approval outlined in Appendix B.

- - - - -

Use · Cultural and Recreational Uses, limited to:

Density · Maximum floor space ratio of 4.58 FSR based on calculation provisions of the DEOD District Schedule;

Height · A maximum of 26.7 m (87.6 ft.).

Parking and Loading


(a) THAT the proposed form of development be approved by Council in principle, generally as prepared by Gomberoff Policzer Bell Lyon, and stamped "Received City Planning Department, September 3, 1999", provided that the Director of Planning may allow minor alterations to this form of development when approving the detailed scheme of development as outlined in (b) below.

(b) THAT, prior to approval by Council of the form of development, the applicant shall obtain approval of a development application by the Director of Planning, who shall have particular regard to the following:

(c) THAT, prior to enactment of the CD-1 By-law, the registered owner shall:


Site, Surrounding Zoning and Development This 0.113 ha (0.279 ac.) site is comprised of four parcels on the north side of East Hastings Street, and is currently vacant and used as a parking lot. The site has a frontage of 30.5 m (100 ft.) and a depth of 37.2 m (122 ft.). The street is flanked on both sides by two- to five- storey old brick buildings, with several taller buildings, including the Tellier Tower, across the street (ten storeys). The site is located between Columbia and Carrall Streets. Pidgeon Park is located half a block to the west, at the intersection of Carrall and Hastings Streets. To the north, across the lane, several mid height brick buildings back onto the lane, with the newer Van Horne development to the north west of the site across the lane, facing onto Carrall and Cordova Streets.

The site is largely surrounded by heritage districts. Lands to the north are zoned HA-2 (Gastown) and to the south, HA-1 (Chinatown). Both sides of East Hastings Street, on this block, as well as much of the neighbourhood east of the site, are zoned DEOD (Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District).

Background: In April, 1982, Council approved the Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District (DEOD), in which the subject site is located in the Main/Hastings sub-area. Development in this sub-area is intended to enhance the importance of the area as a gateway to the Downtown. It is to be a high-density, mixed commercial and residential area, appropriate for a mix of office, retail, local social services and other similar uses. Retail use is encouraged at grade in most buildings to increase continuity. The DEOD further encourages the development of self-contained residential units.

The DEOD currently limits residential density on this site to 3.0 FSR. Any increase in residential area beyond 3.0 must be for non-residential uses, with a total site maximum of 5.0 FSR.

Proposed housing policies for the neighbourhood are currently under review as part of the overall Downtown-Eastside revitalization strategy. These policies identify Hastings and Main Streets as areas for consideration of residential densities higher than the DEOD currently allows. Council has indicated they will consider proposals on a site by site basis, in light of the proposed policy, while the strategy is under community review.

Proposed Development: Proposed is a 9-storey, mixed use building, with 98 self-contained non-market dwelling units, three commercial units at grade, and one level of underground parking with 19 spaces.

This Project has a 1998 conditional allocation from BC Housing of 100 units from the Low Income Urban Singles (LIUS) Program. The City, as the landowner, has approved a $862,500 grant to the Project in the form of a 60-year lease at no cost. In order to maximize the benefit of the land grant, the additional 1.21 residential FSR is being requested to allow the provision of approximately another 30 units on the site, beyond what would be allowed under the DEOD. This reduces the grant from the City on a per unit basis from $12,500 at residential FSR 3.0 to $8,801 at residential FSR 4.21. The City's Non-Market Housing Operations Division would operate the building after completion. It is proposed, subject to approval of Council, that the retail space be leased back to the City and operated by Real Estates Services as part of the Property Endowment Fund's (PEF) retail portfolio.

The Director of Non-Market Housing Operations proposes transferring suitable tenants to this building from the deteriorating, century-old Central Residence at 42 East Cordova, just across the lane from the site and operated by the City. The City is currently considering plans for the Central Residence, including rehabilitating the building and maintaining its heritage quality. Transferring residents to the proposed building would provide the necessary vacant space in the Central Residence to undertake renovations without displacing any tenants.

Safety: Staff have identified a number of safety concerns with respect to Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles. These include reducing opportunities for graffiti on the lane, reducing opportunities for mischief in alcoves adjacent the lane, reducing opportunities for theft and B&E particularly in the underground parking area, and reducing opportunities to access any terrace or roof space, especially the second floor landscaped terrace, from the roofs of adjacent buildings. Detailed safety issues will be dealt with at the development application stage.

Parking: The proposal provides for 19 underground parking spaces. As the site is in Subarea 1 of the DEOD, there is no requirement to provide spaces for the commercial uses. (Parking By-law, Sec. 4.1.4). If this were a conventional non-market housing project located elsewhere, 49 spaces (one space for every two dwelling units) would be required. However, Engineering Services has recommended a residential parking ratio of one space per eight dwelling units, or 12 spaces, for this project, since it is intended as SRO replacement housing, the units are small, and the project is located in the Downtown Eastside, factors which contribute a much-reduced vehicle ownership. The proposal exceeds this requirement by seven spaces, thereby providing additional spaces for staff and customers of the commercial units.

The proposal provides for 75 bicycle spaces, which meets conventional requirements for market development. Engineering Services has noted that they will support a bicycle requirement consistent with the “seniors” standard of 0.25 spaces per unit, yielding a requirement of 25 spaces. The proposal offers a significant surplus in this regard.

Sign By-law: The proposal, being for a mixed use building including both residential and commercial space, requires an amendment to the Sign By-law to permit commercial signage consistent with the DEOD.

Social Implications: The proposal upgrades the quality and supply of housing for low income singles in the Downtown Eastside. Furthermore, the management policy for the building is aimed at ensuring the building is a positive social influence in the neighbourhood. The amenities and crime prevention initiatives provided within the building and through outdoor rooftop terraces, will provide a good degree of livability and safety for residents.

Environmental Implications: The provision of additional street trees and trees on the landscaped terraces will contribute further to improving the environmental quality of the neighbourhood.


Public Input: Notification letters were sent to 500 nearby property owners and 39 community groups in the neighbourhood on September 20, 1999, and rezoning information signs were posted on the site on October 11, 1999.

A public information meeting was held on October 20, 1999, in the Tellier Tower building, across the street from the site. Several dozen people attended to view the drawings and model, and to provide comments. An announcement of the meeting was included in the notification letter to the neighbourhood. Comments from those who attended were largely in support of the proposal and its provision of better quality low income housing.

Several phone calls and 12 letters or E-mails were received from nearby residents. Concerns focused primarily on perceived impacts of concentrating low income housing in the Downtown Eastside and the issue of economic revitalization. The issue of low income housing is discussed on pages 3 and 4 of this report.

Staff believe some of the public concern was due to an error in early notification, in identifying the proposed dwelling units as SRO units (single room occupancy). The proposed units are self-contained units, with full kitchens and bathrooms, and are over twice the size of most SRO or housekeeping units. As such, these units are not SRO units. This error has been noted and corrected in all subsequent correspondence on the matter.

Some additional concern was expressed that the height of the building would affect views from some suites in the Van Horne building, located to the north west of the site. As noted on pages 4 and 5 of this report, the height is within the currently permitted height in the DEOD and the view cone affected will be one of approximately 30 degrees, to the south east of the Van Horne.

Many housing organizations in the Downtown Eastside have expressed support for the proposal.

Comments of Engineering Services: The General Manager of Engineering Services has no objection to the proposed rezoning, provided that the applicant complies with conditions as shown in Appendix B.

Seniors' Advisory Committee Comments: On October 1, 1999, the Committee reviewed the application and resolved that, ‘the Special Advisory Committee on Seniors supports the concept of providing units for the “harder-to-house” because of the high demand for facilities of this type, particularly in the Downtown East Side. However, before SACS gives support to this project at 55-67 East Hastings Street, it would like to see answers to the above concerns.

· No resident mailboxes have been supplied.
· The Committee is concerned that there do not appear to be areas of refuge. These are particularly needed for second floor wheelchair exiting.
· The Committee would like to ensure that all windows are secure to prevent residents from falling or jumping. Alternatively, the Committee was concerned about the possibility of intruders entering the building via the second floor balconies along west Hastings street.
· With regards to the staffing of the facility during afternoon and graveyard shifts, the Committee would rather see a resident manager who would be on-site for 24 hours. In the opinion of the Committee, the social costs of not providing such a resident manager would be much greater than the staffing cost to fill such a position. The Committee is satisfied that the security staff will be provided with radio cellphones and the facility will be equipped with security cameras, computerized locks, computerized elevators and intercom.
· Some units over and above the existing eight should be made adaptable.
· After a conversation with Shirley Chan, the Committee was informed of the City’s intention to move the patio from the second floor to the fifth floor. This seems to be a very reasonable decision because of the limited amount of natural light available to the second floor.
· The Committee would like to be assured that measures have been taken to prevent residents from having access to the lower roofs on each side of the central tower.
· Once again the Committee disagrees with the City’s requirement for the provision of 75 bicycle parking spaces. This seems an unnecessary requirement for the residents targeted for this project. A few bicycle spaces could be allotted for staff, however the remainder of the space should be allocated to resident storage or furniture storage for management.
· In-suite storage - in order for the residents to “age in place”, in-suite storage should be provided for mobility aids.’

Staff will address the issues of mailboxes, secure windows, wheelchair space, lighting and storage during the development application stage. Staff believe that proposed provision for wheelchair-accessible units is sufficient. All concerns of the SAC have been forwarded to the applicant as important considerations for further development planning and design.

Comments of Director of Housing Centre: The Director of Housing Centre supports the rezoning. Comments from Housing Centre staff have been incorporated into the report.

Urban Design Panel Comment: The Urban Design Panel reviewed this proposal on October 20, 1999, and provided the following comments:

“The Panel were unanimously supportive of relaxations for height, density and use, particularly as there is a need for this kind of housing in this part of town. The layouts of the units are small and could be enhanced with further windows looking out on the two roof-tops for a sense of openness. Some panel members suggested that possibly utilizing them as safe, out-door green space would benefit the project in this area where there are few parks and little private outdoor space. Concerns were expressed that more windows or access to roof tops would impinge on privacy and/or cause security issues but more openness was nevertheless encouraged. A suggestion was made for consideration of lighting at night.

The overall design augmented the historical context of the area. Engineering Services should look beyond encroaching agreements with a more sensible approach to cornices and parapets on buildings, which keep weather off the front and are important to enhance the heritage character. Because of the height, the cornices would never have to be dismounted. Current policy requires that non-dismountable cornices not extend over the property line and this can make the detailing costly. Another member then encouraged the applicant to request permission to make the cornice permanent, possibly using concrete as a material, and that its encroachment be specified as a condition of rezoning. The fabric canopies’ colour, size and material as relates to the streetscape was questioned but it was noted also that the lobby entrance was well articulated from the other entries. It was also requested that more street trees be planted on the 100 ft. frontage. The applicant was congratulated on the project being so well resolved in many respects at this stage.”

Staff will address these issues at the development application stage.

Comments of the Applicant: The applicant concurs with this report.

(Form of Development Drawings)

(Note from Clerk: Appendix E is not available in electronic form - on file in the Office of the City Clerk.)




Street Address

55-67 East Hastings Street

Legal Description

Lots 21,22,23 & 24, Block 8, DL 196, Plan 184

Applicant / Architect

Stuart Lyon -- Gomberoff Policzer Bell Lyon Architects

Property Owner

City of Vancouver


Progressive Homes







1,133.2 m² (12,197.5 sq.ft.)


1,133.2 m² (12,197.5 sq.ft.)









Mixed Use

Mixed Use


5.00 total
(Max 3.00 Residential)

4.58 Total
(4.21 Residential +
0.37 Commercial)


30.0 m

26.7 m (plus elevator penthouse)





(conventional requirement)











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