Major tower development approved for Marpole at Marine Canada Line station

Residents differ on development said to add 'body heat' to South Vancouver

City council approved zoning, earlier this week, for PCI Groups Marine Gateway project at the foot of Cambie and Marine Drive.

The site is alongside the Canada Lines Marine Drive station and the development includes residential towers, as well as office, retail and cinema space.

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The approved floor area is 876,971 square feetdown from 1,030,000 square feet in the 2009 proposal. The approved height is 335 feet for the north residential tower, 255 feet for the south residential tower, and 208 feet for the office building.

Seven people sent correspondence to council in support of the project prior to Tuesdays public hearing, two sent letters in opposition, and two pieces of feedback were classified as other, according to Brent Toderian, the citys director of planning.

Toderian estimates 50 per cent of correspondence during the entire two-year application review was in support, 30 per cent was opposed and 20 per cent could be classified as other.

During the review, the project changed from LEED Silver to LEED Gold, and Toderian said the high street and plaza designs improved significantly. Public benefits include rental housing and a bike mobility centre, while more than $6 million in contributions are expected to go to a greenway connection to, and a park at, the Fraser River edge.

A few people [at the public hearing], including Jo-Anne Pringle on behalf of MARA [Marpole Area Residents Alliance], were very specific and said they could neither completely support nor completely object to the proposal and went into detail about what that meant, Toderian explained Thursday, noting concerns generally centred on height, density, traffic and community character.

The people who spoke in favour said the Marpole area needs change, that the area needed new retail, new body heat. Several suggested that the area was rundown and needed to be more diverse and said the proposal would help rejuvenate the area, he added.

Peter Busby, the managing director for Perkins and Will Architect's Vancouver office, said a development permit application is expected be submitted in about a month.

Were looking forward to getting a development permit by November, and were looking forward to starting construction in February or March. The project will be completed in 2015, he said.

Busby noted the developer has publicly indicated the lowest priced unit will be around $275,000 to $285,000, while the average price will be $375,000. Units sizes will range from 52 square metres for the smallest, to up to 75 square metres for the larges ones.

Its the beginning of a vibrant new heart for Marpole on the south side, Busby said, saying the most notable parts of the project are the entertainment and commercial uses so residents dont have to go downtown.

The bike mobility centre is a large space at grade level where, for example, commuter cyclists can park their bikes and go to work, or perhaps continue their commute downtown on the Canada Line.

The mobility centre includes showers and change rooms, so you can dress up for work, Busby said. It also includes a repair facility so you can get your bike serviced. Its supervised storage, so your bike is safe and its operated as a concession. They exist in other parts of the world, but this will be the first one in Vancouver.

Pringle couldnt be reached for comment, but emailed the Courier a copy of her presentation to council, in which she pointed to the unfortunate climate in Vancouver where you are either for development or against it, and there is no inbetween.

MARA doesnt believe that this has to be the case and as such we did not actively recruit speakers for tonights hearing, she told council Tuesday. MARA has always supported development at Marine & Cambie, but tonight I can neither fully support nor fully oppose the Marine Gateway proposal, but instead must reinforce the message given to us by residents of Marpole.

Height and density were the most common concerns noted in feedback sent to MARA and in its community survey, according to Pringle.

The survey showed stronger support for major development at Marine and Cambie than opposition, but residents want development to respond more to the community and address issues such as traffic congestion and pedestrian/vehicle conflict.

There is no question that the Marine Gateway proposal is much better today than it was a year ago. Marine Gateway is one of three key sites for the new neighbourhood centre of Marine Landing, so the residents of Marpole and the participants of MARA will be calling on council to ensure that we achieve the improvements that are needed to the other two key sites, to allow for an improved urban design for the overall area, Pringle said in her presentation.

Toderian acknowledged the Marine Gateway zoning approval signals major changes for Marpole. Definitely, definitely, but the change started with Canada Line, so I think theres been an expectation that the Canada Line would bring change. Most of the discussion has been about what kind of change that should be, he said.

Twitter: @Naoibh

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