Construction on the controversial Beach Towers development in Vancouver’s West End is not proceeding at this time, according to a notice sent to existing Beach Towers residents.
“Devonshire Properties has decided not to proceed with the construction of the new rental units and new recreation centre proposed for Beach Towers. As a result there will be no demolition activity, nor any requirement to relocate tenants’ parking stalls and storage lockers at this time,” the notice, which was dated June 5 and signed Beach Towers Properties through Devonshire Properties Inc, reads. “Should the project be reactivated, ample notification will be provided and tenant information meetings will be held.”
Brian Jackson, the city’s head planner, confirmed the news.
“We met with the owner on Friday who said that he has decided, for now, to complete the paperwork associated with the development permit application, but not proceed to construction at this time. The development permit would be in effect for two years from date of issuance,” he told the Courier.
The developer could not be reached for comment before the Courier’s print deadline.
City council approved a rezoning application for the project in February of 2013. The project involved adding new buildings to the 1960s-era Beach Towers complex, which currently features four highrises overlooking English Bay.
Beach Towers Properties planned to construct 133 new rental units spread over the site — a four-storey residential building with two-storey townhouses along Beach Avenue, as well as a nine-storey residential building at the corner of Harwood and Cardero streets. The rental units would include studios renting for $1,195 a month, one-bedrooms for $1,495 and two-bedrooms for $2,155, according to the plan.
The project was approved after three days of public hearings. Affordability was one of the issues raised.
Christine Ackermann, then a member of the West End Residents Association, a group that recently disbanded, said in 2013 that the development of rental units was a good thing in Vancouver, but she was disappointed by the lack of affordable rentals included in the project.
Randy Helten, a member of West End Neighbours, posted the news about the project not proceeding on the group’s website.
Helten, speaking on his own behalf, not WEN’s, said he hopes the project doesn’t go ahead in the future. He maintains there are several projects in the pipeline for the West End, so the loss of 133 rental units isn’t overly significant. He also said construction would create considerable noise, traffic and disruption for tenants and the neighbourhood.
“The delay hopefully would be a permanent cancellation and Beach Towers, with all its wonderful views for the neighbourhood and the renters, will stay this way and the demolition and the construction will never happen,” he said. “The loss of the planned 133 units I don’t think is a major problem. There’s a lot of stuff [projects] happening.”