Proponents of redeveloping a large mid-block property in the Granville Entertainment District (GED) in downtown Vancouver are seeking more height and density for their project.
Over two years ago, a development permit application was submitted by property owner Bonnis Properties and design firm Perkins & Will Architects to turn 950 Granville Street — currently occupied by two- and three-storey buildings completed about a decade ago — into a new four-storey commercial building.
The lot spans an area of 21,000 sq ft, and is bookended by The Roxy Cabaret to the north and the retail building with 7-Eleven and Tim Hortons to the south. Republic Nightclub was previously one of the major tenants of this property.
The original 65-foot-tall, four-storey concept entails 71,000 sq ft of total floor area for a floor area ratio (FAR) density that is 3.4 times larger than the size of the lot, with 16,800 sq ft of retail on the ground level and 54,300 sq ft of office space in the upper levels. Depending on market conditions, the second and third floors designated as office space could be used as multi-level retail and restaurant uses instead.
But the proponent is hoping the municipal government will allow for slightly more density through additional height, potentially in a second phase that vertically expands the building if not completed in a single phase.
An 88-foot-tall, six-storey version of the building would have a total floor area of 94,500 sq ft for a density of 4.5 FAR, with at least 16,800 sq ft of retail and up to 77,700 sq ft of office space.
Existing city policies for the site permit a height of up to 90 ft and a density of 3.5 FAR. The proponent has indicated that the density increase is the main obstacle; however, the proposed form of the terraced upper levels for the taller version still falls within the current zoning envelope and height limit.
The additional commercial-only density would serve the GED well by providing it with more foot traffic to support local businesses, specifically the foot traffic from office workers. The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association has indicated GED businesses saw a boost from Deloitte’s temporary offices at the Spaces co-working location across the street at the former Tom Lee building.
But the possibility for additional density and height will likely not be known until the municipal government completes an upcoming planning process for the GED between Drake and Robson streets. This work is expected to begin in 2022.
In the meantime, demolition of the site is slated to occur this year to begin the construction of the first phase’s four-storey concept.
The developer says discussions with the city on this project first began in 2018.
Bonnis Properties owns a number of high-profile properties along the Granville Strip, including the Best Buy/Winners building at 798 Granville Street, Moores Clothing for Men building at 526 Granville Street (proposal to redevelop it into a 24-storey office tower), and the major office, retail, and cultural venue complex through the redevelopment of the 800 block of Granville Street. It is also the developer of the 13-storey office tower at 809 Seymour Street, next to the intersection of Robson and Granville streets.