Over five years after the last Vision Vancouver-led City Council approved the policy statement master plan for the Langara Gardens redevelopment, the project has finally entered the formal rezoning application review stage.
Langara Gardens is one of five neighbourhood-sized redevelopment projects along the Cambie Corridor, spanning a 21-acre footprint immediately west of Langara Golf Course and east of Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School. It is framed by Cambie Street to the east, West 54th Avenue to the north, Neal Street to the west, and West 57th Avenue to the south.
The northeast corner of the site at Cambie Park is about a 10-minute walk from SkyTrain Langara-49th Avenue Station.
This redevelopment is a joint partnership between Concert Properties and Peterson Group, with the proponents now hoping to increase the project’s total residential floor area by 10% for the sole purpose of adding secured purpose-built rental housing for moderate-income households.
Compared to the March 2018-approved policy statement, the newly submitted rezoning application for Langara Gardens provides 252,000 sq ft of additional floor area for rental uses, growing the project’s total building floor area to 2.79 million sq ft. Its floor area ratio density is now a floor area that is 3.08 times larger than the size of the lot.
The rezoning application retains the same master plan layout and configuration outlined in the policy statement. The primary difference in terms of building form is the vertical expansion of nine towers, growing their heights by between two and eight storeys, with the building heights now reaching up to 36 storeys.
The redevelopment will be achieved by demolishing the vast majority of the 1970-built Langara Gardens’ footprint, which mainly comprises low-rise residential structures. Only the existing four 18-storey rental apartment towers on the southeast corner of the site, fronting West 57th Avenue and Cambie Street, will be retained.
There will now be a total of 2,620 new homes, including 1,430 strata condominium homes and 1,190 units of secured rental housing under various tenures and income-based rents.
The secured purpose-built rental housing component includes 270 one-for-one replacement units of the existing 270 market rental apartments in low-rise structures. Existing residents temporarily relocated during construction will be income tested if they want to return to a new unit at their current rent levels. Residents eligible for affordable units will be directed toward the project’s moderate-income rental housing units or social housing units.
These replacement units form part of the project’s commitment to retain or replace the site’s existing 605 rental units, with the four retained towers containing 355 rental units.
The redevelopment would be built in six phases to reduce the relocation impact on existing residents at any one time.
As for the rest of the secured purpose-built rental housing component, there will also be 340 moderate-income rental housing units and 430 social housing units. Another 150 units will be for market rental uses, including a portion for senior’s housing.
Residents who do not want to be income tested or earn above income limits will have the right of first refusal to the project’s market rental units.
The developers will build roughly 20% of the project’s social housing component, with about 90 social housing units built to a turnkey condition as part of the rezoning’s community amenity contribution (CACs) package. The remaining 80% of the social housing units will be provided to the municipal government as “dirt site” land parcels, but the proponents have noted they are open to alternative approaches and funding partnerships to potentially expand their direct role in generating more of the social housing.
James Cheng Architects has been retained as the project’s primary design firm, with contributions by landscape architecture firm PFS Studio.
Langara Gardens’ public realm will be fully aligned and coordinated with the public spaces of Onni Group’s separate 25-acre Pearson Dogwood redevelopment immediately to the south. This includes establishing a major north-south central public open space through the middle of the site, with the greenway starting from the upgraded Cambie Park to directly link with Pearson Dogwood’s central open space.
This greenway will follow the meandering route of the existing private Ash Crescent roadway, which will be upgraded and designated as a new City public street. No new major roadways for vehicles are planned, as underground parking will be accessed from the perimeter of the site, enabling a car-light, high-density neighbourhood with pathways for pedestrians and cyclists.
As well, a new one-acre linear public park on the westernmost edge of the Langara Gardens site will be co-located with Churchill school’s athletic track. This park will be made possible by shifting Neal Street slightly to the east.
The proposal does not call for the introduction of any new additional local-serving retail/restaurant uses, but it does retain the existing minor commercial uses found within the base of the existing rental towers. Residents will be in very close proximity to Pearson Dogwood’s major retail hub, where there will be a total of 132,000 sq ft of retail/restaurant uses just on the other side of West 57th Avenue.
But Langara Gardens will provide a childcare facility for up to 69 kids as part of its CACs package.
In June 2022, the previous makeup of City Council approved a similar density and tower height increase for Pearson Dogwood to accommodate more rental housing.
Upon full buildout, Langara Gardens and Pearson Dogwood will carry a combined total population of well over 10,000 residents.
It remains to be seen whether Concert Properties and Peterson Group will be asked to provide a cash CACs contribution towards the construction cost of the future potential additional SkyTrain Canada Line station — 57th Avenue Station.
Onni Group has committed a cash contribution of $20 million to the future station and set land aside at the northeast corner of Pearson Dogwood for a prominent station entrance building at the intersection of Cambie Street and West 57th Avenue.
But even a decade ago, the estimated immense cost and engineering challenges of building an underground station on an active, busy subway cast doubt on the feasibility of realizing this station.
TransLink previously pegged the construction cost of 57th Avenue Station at $90 million, based on 2014 conditions, and predicted the engineering complexities may require a construction timeline of at least 10 years. Even for the current construction project of building Capstan Station in Richmond, there have been major delays in completing the project and unforeseen significant service disruptions beyond what had been originally contemplated.
Without an on-site station, residents of both high-density developments would have to walk to either Langara-49th Avenue Station to the north or Marine Drive Station to the south. Marine Drive Station is a 10-minute walk from Pearson Dogwood’s southeast corner.