City of North Van council approves 187-foot tower, pockets $17 million

Money can be used for recreational centre, affordable housing, councillor says

City of North Vancouver council approved an 18-storey highrise on 13th Street between Lonsdale and St. Georges avenues Monday night | Submitted

It’s worth putting a highrise in Central Lonsdale to put $17 million in the city’s coffers.

That was the consensus in City of North Vancouver chambers Monday night as council voted to approve an 18-storey, 162-unit strata building on East 13th Street between Lonsdale and St. Georges avenues, adjacent to the firehall.

Coun. Holly Back previously opposed the development, citing a neighbourhood “fed up” with constant construction. However, noting construction won’t overlap with other major projects, Back threw her support behind the project Monday, emphasizing the need to turn Central Lonsdale into a lively, walkable neighbourhood.

Back noted the public hearing was dominated by project supporters, which ranged from city residents to young professionals and real estate agents based in Downtown Vancouver and West Vancouver.

Three employers who spoke to council suggested the project would ease the challenge of finding workers willing to brave daily gridlock to work on the North Shore.

However, two speakers raised the concern of what one resident called a dangerous and “badly bottlenecked” near laneway that would be the sole access for the new project.

The proposal also won support from Coun. Rod Clark, who explained that the opposition that filled up his email inbox failed to materialize in council chambers.

The site’s floor space ratio – which measures a development’s total floor area against its lot size –  was previously zoned for an FSR of 3.0. To reach a 4.95 FSR, Millennium Northmount Properties will spend $6.4 million on a 1.0 FSR density bonus and approximately $10.7 million to buy 41,302 square feet from a city owned site for $260 per square foot.

That money can be used for the new Harry Jerome rec centre and to top up the city’s affordable housing fund, Clark noted.

Coun. Don Bell was the lone voice of opposition during council debate, expressing qualms about the total lack of rental as well as the “substantial reduction” in office space.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto disagreed, describing the centre as near the centre of the North Shore and a good fit for density.

The project also won support from Coun. Linda Buchanan, who previously suggested the old medical building has likely come to the end of its life.

By raising the maximum height from 150 to 187 feet, the developer would be able to reduce mass and maintain sunlight in the public realm, according to a city staff report.

The 162-unit project includes seven ground floor commercial retail units, totalling 18,331 square feet. The proposal also includes 31,718 square feet of office space on the second and third floors – approximately half of the office space currently on the site. Aside from 93 spots for the site’s commercial endeavours, the project includes 170 parking spots for residents and 16 stalls for visitors.

The site is currently occupied by the Northmount Medical building and an ICBC building, which are nine- and four-storeys.

The development was approved 6-1 with Coun. Don Bell in opposition.