Southeast False Creek ODP:
Uncertainty for Private Land Owners
February 16, 2005
Editor's Note: On March 1, 2005, Vancouver City Council proceeded to pass the ODP, as was expected in the following article.
South East False Creek (SEFC) is
poised to become the next significant area for mixed-use
development in the City of Vancouver. The
area is one of the last locations available for
waterfront development on the south shore of False
Creek and the City of Vancouver is in the late
stages of implementing its Official Development Plan (ODP) for
SEFC which will serve as the basis for the
development of the Olympic Village and over 7,000
All anticipated development in
SEFC is, however, subject to the City of Vancouver
finalizing the ODP by its now extended deadline of March
1, 2005 and satisfying the development community's need
for a degree of development cost certainty and
fairness. These unsettled issues continue to be a
source of controversy in development circles and have been the focus of several recent Vancouver
Sun articles and editorials which have also
raised concerns on how best to utilize proceeds
from the Property Endowment Fund (PEF) and that the
necessary funding (mainly from the Provincial and
Federal Governments) will not be assured at the time the
ODP must be approved.
The area of SEFC
that will be subject to the ODP is located between Main Street to the
east, the Cambie Street Bridge and Wylie Street to the
west, 2nd Avenue to the south and the shores
of False Creek and Terminal Avenue to the north. The
area consists of approximately 32 hectares (79 acres) of
which approximately 20.2 hectares (50 acres) north of
1st Avenue is owned by the City of Vancouver.
Private parties own approximately 12.1 hectares (29
acres) between 1st and 2nd Avenue
and north to Terminal Avenue along Main Street.
I thought that it would be
helpful to provide some commentary on the mix of housing
that may actually be built and on potential impacts the
revised ODP may have on private land owners if approved
by council on March 1st, 2005.
What is the SEFC ODP?
SEFC is envisioned under
the ODP to be a mixed-use neighbourhood on the shores of
False Creek focusing primarily on a diverse mix of
social and market multifamily housing (refer to
The major land use objective of the ODP
is to change the area from its current brownfield
industrial use to mixed-use residential, commercial
retail and office and offer community infrastructure
including a community centre, school, numerous child
care facilities, public open space (including three main
parks, waterfront greenways / bikeways) and a
non-motorized boating facility.
Approximately 63% or 3.6 million square
feet (SF) of the total density approved within the ODP
will be built on the private lands. 133,000 SF of the
approximately 218,000 SF of commercial retail, office
and light industrial expected to be constructed in the
ODP area will be built on the private lands, and the
remaining 85,000 SF is slated to be built within the
Olympic Village which forms part of the public
The City owned public land sub-areas are
designed in the ODP as "1A", "2A" and "3A". The aim of the ODP is to create 1/3
affordable housing, 1/3 middle income housing, and 1/3
The total amount of
subsidized affordable and middle income
housing will be approximately 1.2 million SF or 2,000
units located primarily on public lands between
1st Avenue and the shores of False Creek.
Total square footage for market and non-market housing
on the public lands is approximately 2.1 million SF or
2,600 to 3,000 units.
hectares (26 acres) of park will be built with approx
10.28 hectares (25 acres) to be located within sub areas
1A, 2A and 3A on the public lands.
The chart below summarizes the allotment
of density between the public and private landholders
and estimates the amount of units that may be
How will the
revised plan impact Private Land Owners?
On July 26, 2004, council
SEFC policy statement and
recommended that further investment be made by the PEF
to enhance the community amenity package. Amendments
recommended by council included the
- Limiting heights to low and medium
- Change the mix of housing from 20%
affordable / 80% market to 1/3 low income, 1/3 middle
income and 1/3 market housing.
- Increase the size of the community
centre from 10,000 SF to 30,000 SF.
- Additional child care centres.
- Inclusion of a non-motorized boating
- Institute silver to gold LEED
As a result of revising
the community amenity package, project costs have
The following factors may
temporarily impact the ability of private land owners to
either sell or develop their land in the short to medium
The revised amenity package now before council
identifies a contribution requirement from the private
land owners of approximately $61 million in costs (See
the SEFC Financial Strategy Report). The per buildable cost suggested
in the financial plan for the ODP that "may" be levied
against the private land owner includes: $6.00 city wide
DCL, $8.00 community amenity contribution (CAC), $8.00
CAC for costs associated with the increased level of
low income housing and $4.00 CAC for costs associated
with the increased level of middle income housing. The
total DCL/CAC of $26.00 per BSF is higher than some
(most) private land owners originally anticipated and
could restrict the economic viability of some projects
moving forward in the near term.
It is important to note that the actual amount to
be levied for DCLís and CACís will be finalized for
each private land owner during the rezoning process.
It is not entirely clear exactly when the private
lands can be rezoned. Publicly it has been said that
the private lands will be rezoned immediately after
the public lands are rezoned, but the rezoning is
subject to the IOC's security issues and it is not
clear what these will be yet.
Further compatible housing strategies may be
implemented on all private lands during the CD-1
All development will be subject to the LEED green
building strategy. One opportunity for private
developers in this respect is the potential
eligibility for density bonuses for green initiatives
and / or transfers for heritage, cultural use and
other public amenity contributions. However, it is
unclear whether additional density can be added to any
of the sites because of the limited height
restrictions now recommended in the revised ODP.
Accordingly, approval of
the ODP by council on March 1, 2005 will not remove a
number of uncertainties. One
solution may be for council to ensure that enough
flexibility is incorporated into the approved ODP in
order to alter the amenity contribution based on costs
or funding changes throughout the phased
At this point in time (and
perhaps throughout 2005), the only thing that land
owners and developers seem to agree on is that most
deals are on hold until the public lands are rezoned in
the fall (2005) and more certainty exists on costs and
rezoning for the private lands.
In Part 2 of this article,
I will follow up to discuss the results of the March
1st, 2005 council meeting, including whether
council made any further revisions to the ODP and what
the timing might be for construction to begin at the
Olympic Village site and on the private
Bryce specializes in
brokering the acquisition and disposition of major
development sites and provides related
financial structuring assistance. Since 2002,
Bryce has sold properties valued in aggregate in
excess of $100,000,000. Prior to joining Colliers,
Bryce was a commercial mortgage broker at Citifund
Capital where he specialized in multi-family CMHC
and conventional commercial construction and long
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