2020-09-15: UPDATED — Council early input — proposal for 6 storey apartment building on St George (Laidler)
It was an unusual presentation to council on September 15, 2020 (early input). There was an introduction by city staff, followed by the applicant’s (Laidler) presentation. The second of two videos included renderings of a potentially re-done Kyle Centre which suggested if the project was allowed to proceed with additional density it would provide major (but unspecified) cash towards a new Kyle Centre. It was noted that more allowable density would result in more amenity cash.
It is important to note the land in question is not envisioned for density in the Official Community Plan (OCP), and is zoned RS1 (single-family low density).
The presentation also included a couple of property owners in the proposed parcel voicing support.
The council video from September 15 is here. This item, 7.4, starts with a staff presentation at just past 2:14 (2 hours, 14 minutes) into the recording.
The applicant’s pitch is primarily:
- More rentals in Moody Centre would be beneficial.
- 15% of the proposed units would be priced below market rate (unclear as to how much below).
- The added density, if allowed, would be a net positive for affordability.
- Community amenity contributions (CACs) would help to upgrade or rebuild Kyle Centre.
The applicant added a new twist — that the property at Mary and St George Streets (123-129 Mary St) consisting of 4 rental townhomes on one standard lot (RM4 zoning) — could be included in the proposal. The property has been for sale for just over two months for a price of $2,895,000. If this parcel was included the proposed building and footprint would become larger by one standard lot (5 in total).
This property is currently assessed at $2,295,000. Five years ago (2016) it was assessed at $1,390,000, about $900,000 less than today. See below for more source images, including BC Assessment and for sale listing.
The affordability debate
The Mary Street townhouses property is currently “affordable” rental by today’s standards, due to the fact it was built in 1969.
- Based on the current asking price for the property, each square foot of residential building space is worth $387.
- Based on the current assessed value, each square foot of residential building space is worth ~$307.
- It is common to hear cost estimates of ~$1,000 per square foot for new builds.
Mary Street townhouses: With gross income of just under $80,000 per year divided by 4 (units), the unit rent works out to ~$20,000 per year, or ~$1,667 per month for a unit almost 1,900 sq. ft. with 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, and fenced yard. This works out to about $0.88 (88 cents) per square foot per month.
As the Laidler proposal is for a rental building with 15% of the units below “market” rental, a question was asked about what rental rates might be. The applicant suggested a one-bedroom unit typically rents for about $1,900 per month. That works out to about $3.40 per square foot per month, or about $2.50 more than the current sq ft rental rate per month for the townhouses, or to put it another way almost a 4-fold increase (3.8). The applicant added they planned to rent for less than the typical number, but what that might be is unknown.
A recent article in The Tyee speaks to the issue of speculation and affordability. Here is an excerpt.
“You see, in Vancouver the real estate industry looks at housing cost from what might seem an odd perspective. They price units by the cost of land per square foot “buildable.” That means how many square feet of space you are allowed to build on a land parcel.
So as you increase the allowable number of square feet you can build on that lot, you increase the price per square foot of dirt. If you double the “buildable” square feet of a parcel with a value of $2 million, its value jumps to close to $4 million overnight. And when that new housing is built, it has to sell at a price that pays off that steep rise in value — about $600 more per square foot.”
Source: Vancouver’s New Affordable Housing Plan Needs a Serious Tweak
It will accelerate land-price inflation, which drives our housing crisis. Here’s the math.
The Tyee, September 17, 2020, by Patrick Condon (James Taylor chair in Landscape and Livable Environments at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the founding chair of the UBC urban design program)
This raises a lot of questions about the correlation between new development and affordability.
Is this something Port Moody should protect as currently zoned? Or approve it for redevelopment which would provide more units but result in a much higher rental cost per square foot.
Below, information source images
Image from applicant presentation September 15, 2020
For sale listing
The Moody Centre Community Association (MCCA) welcomes your comments.
This proposal requires a significant OCP amendment to allow for 6 storeys on St George in a single-family low density neighbourhood (both OCP and zoning). Under the current OCP, up to 4 storeys are permitted on the main road of St Johns Street to the north.
This appears to be a potential land assembly if permissions can be obtained. BC Assessment shows no recent sales for any of the four properties in question.
Excerpts from agenda package below. For complete material, see agenda package at link here.
To provide an opportunity for early Council input on the preliminary Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment and rezoning application submitted for 2505-2517 St. George Street for a six-storey multi-family residential building containing 148 units.
The City has received a preliminary Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment and rezoning application for the properties at 2505-2517 St. George Street to amend the OCP from Single-Family Low Density to Multi-Family Residential and rezone the site from the Single Detached Residential (RS1) Zone to a Comprehensive Development (CD) Zone based on the Six-Storey Apartment Residential (RM8) Zone. The purpose of the OCP amendment and rezoning would be to facilitate the construction of a six-storey rental residential apartment building containing 148 units with a net Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 2.82.
MCCA note: The RM8 zoning is a bit of a mystery. It does not appear on the current city zoning map, link here for map and bylaw links.
The subject site consists of four single-family lots totaling approximately 3,040m2 (0.75ac). Each of the single-family lots are currently developed with a single-family home. The property also has sloping characteristics as it slopes upwards from north to south with an elevation change of approximately three to four metres.
The pre-application proposes to amend the OCP from Single-Family Low Density to Multi-Family and rezone the subject site from the RS1 Zone to a CD Zone to allow for a six-storey apartment. The development would consist of a total of 148 residential rental units over an underground parkade with the following unit mix:
At this time, staff are seeking input from the Committee of the Whole. While the proposed recommendation provides for general input through the Council discussion, the Committee could choose to provide more specific direction to the applicant and staff through an alternative resolution. One alternative resolution is as follows:
THAT the applicant be advised to revise the current preliminary application for 2505-2517 St. George (Laidler Development) with the goal of achieving consistency with current Official Community Plan policies.
The Moody Centre Community Association (MCCA) welcomes your comments.