The commercial and residential development set to replace The Ridge movie theatre and Varsity bowling alley has nearby residents riled.
Residents of West 15th Avenue worry the complex with its underground parking access off the lane parallel to Arbutus, at the end closest to 15th, will make their street unsafe, more polluted, noisier and an even more difficult place to park.
"There's no amenities being given back to us with this," said neighbour Carrie Riches. "They're taking everything away. They're giving us 52 suites looking down on us and they're telling us we're going to live with 189 parking spots that are being accessed daily, which means far more than that in terms of real cars travelling through our neighbourhood, through our laneways. So we're becoming a paved driveway for this building and they'll come in and they'll use up our parking spots on the street and that just seems really unfair."
Cressey (Ridge) Development has applied to the city 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, and 50 condos. The parking spots in front of The Ridge rest on city land and Cressey will convert them to a hard-surface public space with benches and landscaping. The development will include 95 residential and 89 commercial underground parking spots.
The lobby to the condos is proposed off 15th Avenue, so tenants would have a West 15th address. Neighbours worry their cars will spill onto their residents-only parking street.
Riches believes the building should be flipped so its mechanics, loading and access to parking occur off busy Arbutus instead of residential streets.
But David Evans, development manager for Cressey, said the city wouldn't want the back of the building to face Arbutus.
Riches believes the building would extend too far into the lane. She notes her neighbours have dug out multiple delivery trucks when ice has coated the surface of their sloping streets.
Evans said traffic studies have been conducted but weather conditions haven't been considered. The residents also lament the impending loss of the movie theatre and bowling alley, which hosts youth, adult and seniors' leagues. Riches said Varsity reported hosting 1,000 bowling birthday parties and 12,000 participants in physical education classes last year.
Evans noted the theatre has been struggling to survive and said the decades-old complex would require costly upgrades to survive. The proposed development is conditional under the existing zoning and requires approval of the Development Permit Board. The application is slated to go before the city's Urban Design Panel June 6 and the Development Permit Board July 30.
Residents received notification letters about the development from the city last week. They are organizing under the umbrella of the Kitsilano Arbutus Residents' Association or KARA, and will meet June 4, 6 p.m. at the Varsity Ridge bowling alley.
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