Developer submits new Chinatown proposal amid neighbourhood skepticism
'It's really a disappointment,' says neighbourhood advocate
A controversial Vancouver Chinatown housing development has been redesigned and resubmitted to the city, but neighbourhood advocates are not impressed.
Beedie Group, in a Friday media release, said it had submitted an amended application to the city of Vancouver for 105 Keefer Street, a condo proposal voted down by council in June.
The project has been in the works since 2013, but concerns over gentrification and fitting in with the character of Chinatown have caused neighbourhood groups to oppose it.
The newest proposal calls for the building to be 27 metres tall, a decrease from the 35 metres as initially proposed.
In a statement, the developers said it pledges to work with the city and community and vowed to provide "important subsidized cultural ground-floor space," and better pedestrian areas in plaza.
"The space will be accessible for a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multilingual user-base with emphasis on seniors," the statement said.
Beedie also pledged to revise the building's exterior "to ensure that the character of the building is reflective of its context and rich heritage of the area."
No one from Beedie was made available for an interview about the revised proposal.
Neighbourhood groups skeptical
Nathaniel Lowe and the Chinatown Concern Group have long opposed the project and want the municipal or provincial government to acquire the site — currently a parking lot — and turn it into social housing.
"For the project to be … a 100 per cent market-rate development is not respectful to the community, to the living heritage of low-income Chinese seniors living in the community," he said. "It's really a disappointment."
Lowe says political will is the only thing stopping the public acquisition of the site. "There has been no concrete action on proposing a land swap or purchasing the site from Beedie."
Bill Yuen with Heritage Vancouver Society is not calling for the site to be entirely social housing but says any new development has to embody traditional values of the neighbourhood, like affordability and intergenerational interactions.
"There's been a lot made that this project is taking an empty lot and putting something on it … most things are better than an empty lot," he said.
"What would help this neighbourhood, and how much does what is being proposed deviate from what would help this neighbourhood?"