Members of the Kitsilano Arbutus Residents' Association want a community gathering place instead of a hard-surface public space in front of The Ridge complex that's slated for redevelopment at West 16th and Arbutus.
Participants at KARA's meeting Wednesday night wrote postcards to the mayor and city council citing their wishes for the project. The parking spots in front of The Ridge rest on city land. Cressey (Ridge) Development would convert them to a hard-surface public space with benches and landscaping.
Carrie Riches, a member of KARA, said other members met with Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs Monday night and they believe the value of the proposed plaza land could be more than $8 million. "Better thought should go into public space, particularly at the bookend of this important Arbutus corridor," Riches wrote in an email Thursday morning.
Residents say they want a centre that could include a small theatre, meeting rooms and a bowling alley rather than a grassless plaza near a busy intersection.
Opponents of the redevelopment received a reprieve when the city's Urban Design Panel didn't support the proposed commercial and condo development at its June 6 meeting. Only one of eight panel members present supported the design forwarded by Cressey and IBI/HB Architects. "It's not uncommon for things on their first go at the Urban Design Panel not to be approved," said Kevin McNaney, assistant director of planning for the city.
McNaney, who didn't attend the meeting but speaks for the planning department, said the professional advisory body appointed by the city felt the proposed building looked too busy and lacked visual coherence.
He said panel members suggested garbage collection should be in an enclosed area, rather than on the lane, to minimize noise for neighbours.
Cressey proposed incorporating the iconic red Ridge cinema sign on the Arbutus side of the development, but panel members didn't like that the sign wouldn't overlook a major entrance.
IBI/HB Architects will have to revise their drawings so plans can return to the design panel before the development permit board can consider the project. The redevelopment could be approved under existing zoning.
Cressey wants to construct a five-storey building with a large retail space intended for a grocery store at ground level, two townhouses on the corner of the lane and 15th Avenue, and 50 condos. The development will include 95 residential and 89 commercial underground parking spots.
Access to the underground parking is off the lane parallel to Arbutus and 15th, so residents of 15th worry about traffic volume on their street. The city has asked Cressey to conduct a traffic study and to share the results with the public even as city engineers review it.
Riches said city project facilitator David Autiero told her that Urban Design Panel members also expressed concerns about the proposed public space and the treatment of the lane. Residents wish the city and developer had discussed the project with the community earlier. KARA claims more than 5,000 signatures against the redevelopment
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