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Onni Group mulls height and density increase on Pearson Dogwood site

Proposal would produce significant increase in rental apartments in development.

Onni Group is considering filing a rezoning application for an increase in height and density on the Pearson Dogwood site in order to significantly increase the number of rental apartments.

The company, which has already filed a letter of intent with the City of Vancouver, is hosting a pre-application open house tonight (March 12) to seek public input about the proposal. The 25.4-acre property sits between Cambie and Heather streets and 57th and 59th avenues.

Onni’s preliminary proposal envisions adding just over 254,000 square feet of rental density to the site. Two currently approved strata buildings in parcels C and E of the site, would be converted to rental buildings, with 25 per cent of the units reserved for moderate income households. The height of the two buildings wouldn’t change.

“The application further proposes shifting the 254,000 square feet of what currently would be ‘market condo density’ to other buildings across the site at a later date, in various phases of the project. This shift would result in multiple buildings throughout the site to increase in modest levels of height, generally three to five storeys,” explained Duncan Wlodarczak, Onni Group chief of staff, in an email to the Courier.

“We approached the city staff, mayor, and council with the idea for this application as while there was no rental housing included in the original policy statement, we are well aware of the city’s desire and need to increase the stock of market rental housing, and in particular units that are at the moderate income level.”

phases

Onni Group believes there’s capacity for additional density given the site's size and proximity to transit.

“We wanted to explore the opportunity as way to work in partnership with the city to tackle housing affordability and diversity within the rental stock,” Wlodarczak added.

Last July, council debated, and approved, staff recommendations to consider extra density, geared toward moderate income households, on the Pearson Dogwood and the Oakridge Transit Centre sites, as well as other major project sites on a case-by-case basis.

A staff report to council at the time noted that the Housing Vancouver Strategy to create 20,000 new secured market rental units over 10 years, with 14,500 designated for households with incomes between $30,000 and $80,000, was not being met — only 33 per cent of the annual target after two years was reached.

“Increasing the supply of rental housing, particularly moderate income-targeted rental housing, is a top priority for the implementation of the city’s housing strategy,” Neil Hrushowy, assistant director of community planning, wrote in the July 23, 2019, report.

“The development industry has demonstrated significant interest in building moderate income rental housing when paired with incentives to achieve project viability. Together with the recent slowdown in strata condominium sales, this interest provides an important opportunity to address this priority.”

If Onni Group ends up submitting rezoning application for extra density, a city-led open house will be scheduled as part of the process, which would also include a staff review and public hearing.

Meanwhile, the first phase of the Pearson Dogwood development — Parcel A — is well under construction.

noconnor@vancourier.com