The SkyTrain Commercial-Broadway station is already one of the busiest transit hubs in Western Canada, and the upcoming revised redevelopment proposal for the adjacent Safeway will attempt to better recognize this fact.
Following the October 2022 municipal election, a revised rezoning application will be presented to Vancouver City Council to consider higher building heights for the “Broadway Commercial” project.
The increased density through taller towers will allow for a 37% increase in the total number of homes, from 653 units in the previous iteration to 894 units in the revised design. This updated figure will provide enough housing for approximately 1,600 people.
Most of the additional 241 units will be purpose-built rental units.
The number of affordable rental units will more than double, from 93 to 205 units.
Rental units on the market will increase from 345 units to 395 units.
Condominiums will also see an increase, from 215 units to 294 units. In an interview, Peter Busby, the principal of architectural firm Perkins & Will, told Daily Hive Urbanized that additional market property units are needed to help pay for the various benefits of the project, including offsetting the cost market growth and affordable rental housing.
Apart from the vertical increase in height of the three towers, the overall design of the redevelopment is largely the same as what was proposed in the previous revision made in 2021.
Tower A closest to the Expo Line platforms was increased from 29 stories to 38 stories – the largest nine-story height increase of the overhaul. Tower B facing East Broadway now has 34 floors instead of the previous 29 floors, while Tower C facing East 10th Avenue at the southeast corner of the site now has 31 floors instead of 24 floors.
Base podium uses, including a new 50,000 square foot replacement Safeway, as well as office, retail, restaurant and fitness room uses will remain. The current Safeway is the retail grocery chain’s busiest store in Western Canada.
Busby says the design changes to the towers were relatively simple and quick, using the same elevator cores and no additional parking for vehicles.
The newly revised concept increases the total floor area of the resort from approximately 600,000 square feet in the previous iteration to approximately 740,000 square feet in September 2022. The resulting floor area ratio (FAR) density is a floor area 7.0 times larger than the Safeway lot size – up from the previous FAR of 5.7.
Crombie REIT and local developer Westbank are returning to municipal government with more density using the transit-focused permitted density of the City Council-approved Broadway plan as a new benchmark for the kind of density that can and should be permitted near SkyTrain stations. Additionally, the geographical boundary of the Broadway plan is just two blocks west on Clark Drive.
Busby drew attention to the allowable densities next to the five future subway stations directly on Broadway, which are part of the Millennium Line Broadway Extension, will be between 10.5 and 12 FAR.
“We feel pretty strongly that SkyTrain stations are important places to put density,” he said. He notes that the site is guided by the stipulations of the city’s Grandview-Woodland Plan enacted in 2016, but that area plan is now outdated in terms of the realities facing the city and the wider region.
It also takes into account the immense ridership impact that the planned 2025 opening of the Millennium Line Broadway Extension to Arbutus will have on Commercial-Broadway Station, and the growing momentum to further extend the Millennium Line to west to the University of British Columbia (UBC), planned for the 2030s.
As a key interchange between the Expo and Millennium lines, extensions of the Millennium line to Arbutus and then eventually to UBC are expected to bring Commercial-Broadway station ridership to 31,100 passengers per day from here 2045.
Projected ridership in 2045 for Commercial-Broadway station is more than double the forecast for South Granville station (14,700 per day) and about 50% higher than that for Broadway-City Hall (19,700 per day), which will be the busiest station in the year 2025. Extension segment of the SkyTrain.
“It strengthens the argument that this is a candidate for rezoning, absolutely,” Busby said. Based on current timelines, if approved, the redevelopment could be completed in 2026, just one year after the SkyTrain extension opens.
Busby’s firm is responsible for designing some of the most successful mixed-use and transit-oriented developments in the region.
With PCI Developments he designed Crossroads (housing London Drugs and Whole Foods Market) kitty corner of Broadway-City Hall Station and Marine Gateway (housing Cineplex and T&T Supermarket) next to Marine Drive Station.
Perkins&Will also worked with PCI Developments on the 39-storey mixed-use retail/office/rental housing tower that will sit directly above the entrance to the future South Granville Station, which was approved by City Council in April 2022. They are also working with the developer on a major second phase of Marine Gateway.
The city council was supposed to participate in the public hearing for the rezoning application of the previous concept for the redevelopment of Safeway before the end of July 2022. The official reason for delaying the decision on this project after the election is that the city council has ran out of time, having spent numerous dates on marathon town hall meetings for the Broadway plan, the Vancouver plan and other controversial housing projects.
Safeway’s previous redevelopment concept is already a highly controversial proposition for local residents, which is evidenced by the red “NO MEGATOWERS” lawn signs that dot the surrounding single-family neighborhood.
“The neighbors are against this project because they don’t want any change. They have publicly stated that they want more affordable and rental housing, so this project will represent 5% of affordable housing in Grandview-Woodland,” Busby said.
“They said they wanted this site to be covered in four- and five-story buildings, but it’s a waste of opportunity. We can get around 900 units, but we have to get on with it. Every year we delay, rental rates in this city increase.
Busby also addressed some suggestions from neighbors to create a large centralized public park or plaza on the 2.4-acre lot, as opposed to the linear public plaza at the west end of the site. He says it’s a non-starter for property owner Crombie REIT because it would be impractical for a new replacement Safeway. In such a required scenario, this Safeway store at 1780 East Broadway – largely a surface parking lot – would remain undeveloped for many years.
Busby notes that the revised new concept brings some improvements to the resort’s public spaces. The 20,000 square foot linear public plaza is now slightly larger, as it no longer includes sidewalks. As previously designed, it is a space for ephemeral events, retail and art, persistence and a mid-block pedestrian connection between East Broadway and East 10th Avenue.
The previously planned central courtyard on the roof of the Safeway is now enhanced with a publicly accessible greenhouse and a second public entrance. A new staircase leading to the courtyard was added to the southeast corner of the site from East 10th Avenue, while retaining the main staircase with amphitheater seating in the public plaza.
Visible from the courtyard will be large thermal reservoirs that store water to help balance the thermal needs of the complex throughout the year, with stored heat from summer used in winter and stored ‘coolness’ from winter. used in summer.
The thermal reservoirs are part of the project’s goal of being a Net Zero Carbon certified building. Other features of the green building include a Creative Energy plant (a BC Hydro-powered district energy system) in the parking lot to provide low-carbon heating and cooling, as well as triple-glazed windows, an envelope of watertight building and the use of low impact concrete. It will be an all-electric complex.
“The proposal here is for a building that is significantly greener than what the City of Vancouver requires…it will be the greenest building in Vancouver,” Busby said. “We hope it will be well received.”