The City of Vancouver has approved plans for the controversial Birch Street rental tower, a 28-storey development located at the corner of West Broadway. While the height of the new building had many residents in opposition, ultimately the need for more affordable rental housing won the City Council’s vote.
When complete, the 280-foot tower by Jameson Development Corp. will deliver 200 market rental homes and 58 units geared to households earning between $30,000 and $80,000 per year. Mayor Kennedy Stewart described the vote as a necessary step toward achieving Vancouver’s 10-year goal of approving 72,000 new homes for construction by 2027.
The unit mix is comprised of 30 studios, 121 one-bedroom, 70 two-bedroom, and 27 three-bedroom units. Rents for the 58 moderate-income units will be between $950 per month for a studio and $2,000 for a three-bedroom unit — roughly half of the market rental rates. Within the first two levels, there will also be roughly 30,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space. All units will be pet-friendly.
The Birch Street rental tower project falls under the city’s Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRP), which was designed to provide homes for households that are not eligible for or do not want to live in social housing, but cannot afford a market rental home.
Though the majority was in favour of the project moving forward given the city’s need for more rental housing, those opposed expressed concerns about the tower’s height, shadowing, and the impact on neighbourhood character. A previous design, approved in January 2018, had the tower rising just 17 storeys, but the plans were since revised.
Renderings: Jameson Development Corp.