A Vancouver builder says he made the difficult decision to cancel a social housing project in the city’s Downtown Eastside because of a nightmarish, years-long process of trying to work with the city to get a building permit.
Perdip Moore still struggles to understand why the property he bought in 2014 remains vacant amid a housing crisis.
“It’s a shame,” PD Moore Homes Inc. senior project manager told PKBNEWS on Tuesday.
“I find it really upsetting.”
Moore said he purchased the empty lot at 436 East Hastings when his wife was pregnant and the couple thought it would be a good way to give back to the community, given that their business had enjoyed 23 successful years.
“When our child started kindergarten, we kind of gave up on that part of it,” Moore said.
In 2019, the City of Vancouver Development Permit Board approved an application for a seven-story mixed-use building at 436 East Hastings with ground-floor retail and 14 social housing units plus eight rental units on the market.
The 64 percent public housing and 36 percent market rents were consistent with the requirements of 60 percent public housing and 40 percent market rents guaranteed for new projects built beyond existing zoning in the district DTES Oppenheimer.
The City of Vancouver previously told PKBNEWS that only one 60/40 building – 288 East Hastings – had been constructed since 2014.
Moore’s canceled 60/40 project is the only other request the city has received since adopting the Downtown Eastside (DTES) plan in 2014.
“This is an empty property that could accommodate 22 people and it’s still empty after almost 10 years now,” Moore said.
Developers have argued that the 60/40 housing split is not economically viable without huge government subsidies.
But PD Moore Homes Inc. said it proposed building 100 percent public housing or 22 micro-units without government funding. Moore also provided emails to PKBNEWS showing he had a nonprofit partner willing to lease and operate the site once built.
“The city refused and said they wanted the nonprofit to have title to the property before issuing a building permit, which is basically putting the cart before the horse,” Moore said.
The City of Vancouver did not make anyone available for an interview, but said that after the application was approved, city staff worked with the applicant to adapt their application and resubmit it with modifications to comply with the conditions.
“After resubmission, City staff have not heard from the applicant. After two years of inactivity, the application was canceled in November 2022,” read an emailed statement from the city.
The city later clarified that it had not necessarily canceled the application, but “it is considered closed due to inactivity.”
The city said it is important to note that PD Moore was not the applicant and therefore the city has not communicated directly with PD Moore regarding the project, and if the applicant wishes to take over the project, “the City encourages them to contact the organization that issued the permits. department directly. »
In fashion now
Moore said the applicant is architect Wilson Chang Architect, on behalf of PD Moore Homes Inc., which is a standard process.
“I’ve had meetings with the city council, people at all levels at city hall, in person, by email,” Moore told PKBNEWS.
In a January 2021 email exchange, a resigning city staffer, who PKBNEWS is not naming, sent this response to Moore: “It is even more unfortunate that this project was so difficult because it would have provided essential housing. in the Downtown Eastside.
“We spent years on this project with the city and we just couldn’t get through the red tape,” Moore said.
“It’s quite frustrating because we did this because we wanted to give back.”
Moore said he purchased the property for $900,000 and spent more than $400,000 in consulting fees and other expenses on different proposals to the city to make the project work.
He said he has since submitted a new application for a development permit to build four rental units within the area’s existing zoning because the 60/40 zoning is unworkable and will not produce housing.
“If you can’t work with developers to get these buildings built, they’ll never be built,” Moore lamented.
“This area will always stay that way until the people we have in place to create policies actually allow housing to be built.”
Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim’s communications team did not respond to a Sept. 10 interview request from PKBNEWS asking whether he and his ABC majority council would revisit 60/40 zoning requirements in the DTES district Oppenheimer.
PKBNEWS then contacted ABC Coun. Peter Meiszner, who agreed to give an interview, before his authorization to speak on the subject was revoked by the mayor’s office.
In an email to PKBNEWS Monday evening, the mayor’s communications director, Harrison Fleming, wrote: “I think it is best to postpone this conversation for a bit as there should be a more meaningful update that we can give you soon, and I don’t. I don’t think a conversation tomorrow will give you much new information.
Moore said the city needs to cut red tape and reexamine its policies.
“The system they have in place is archaic,” he said.
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