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TransLink strikes agreement with developer for Arbutus rental tower

Two properties will be amalgamated to build the 200-unit structure, which includes 40 of those units with below-market rents for 'moderate' income earners.
A 30-storey rental tower developed by TransLink is being proposed on the Broadway SkyTrain corridor.

TransLink announced Wednesday it has reached an agreement with PCI Developments to build a 30-storey rental complex nearby the future Arbutus SkyTrain Station on West Broadway in Vancouver.

The regional transportation authority that serves much of the Lower Mainland intends to build 200 rental units and ground-floor retail outlets on adjacent properties it and the developer own.

This is the first of what TransLink expects to be many transit-oriented developments on TransLink-owned properties nearby rapid and mass transit hubs.

In essence, rental income will pay off the mortgage on the building and additional income will be funnelled to transit projects, as a revenue-generating venture.

“This partnership will help us build a new transit-oriented community, where people can more easily take transit, walk, or cycle,” stated TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn.

“This program will generate much-needed long-term revenue to expand and improve vital transit services, while aligning with local and provincial government goals to increase housing supply,” added Quinn.

TransLink stated further details of the project will be made more clear to the public this spring; however, it noted a new community space will be provided as the future home of the Ohel Ya’akov Community Kollel, a Jewish cultural, education and neighbourhood centre.

And, 20 per cent of the rental units will be rented at “below-market rates and secured for moderate-income households.”

According to TransLink and PCI, below market rates will be determined by the City of Vancouver’s Rental Incentive Program for the Broadway corridor development plan.

The program stipulates that all mixed-use rental developments in the area, such as this one, must have a minimum of 20 per cent of total residential floor area with below-market rental rates.

Below-market rates for these mixed-use buildings are set at 20 per cent below the city-wide average rent price as reported by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC); and new tenants’ household income must not exceed four times the annual rental rate, per a housing agreement between the landowner and city.

So, hypothetically, if the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment is $2,500 monthly, such units will cost $2,000 monthly, or $24,000 annually and thus be available to households with an annual income of up to $96,000.

The project will be guided by transit-oriented development guidelines, which are supportive of buildings with less parking spaces for tenants.

The project is part of the TransLink Real Estate Development Program.

The program, states TransLink, “presents a unique opportunity to leverage existing real estate assets and generate non-taxation revenue to reinvest into transit, while growing our transit-oriented communities. This will promote transit use and sustainable transport throughout the region.”

New buildings may be publicly or privately financed and TransLink is open to partnering with neighbouring landowners to expand a proposal.

This article was updated March 31 to provide better details of the rental rates

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