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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Reliance adds hotel rooms to workforce housing tower in bid for city approval

The CEO of Reliance Properties is continuing to push the City of Vancouver to relax its policy prohibiting residential development in the CBD.

“A vote against a downtown Vancouver housing project is a vote in favour of a small parkade,” said Jon Stovell, CEO of Reliance Properties, referring to a site it owns at Thurlow and Melville in the central business district, which goes before council this week.

Earlier this month, city staff advised council to reject Reliance’s proposal for a 47-storey rental tower with 484 units, 104 of which would have been workforce housing for essential workers at below-market rates.

Stovell says the site is too small to support an office building, which needs a minimum floor plate of 12,000 square feet — however, the site can only accommodate a maximum floor plate of 8,500 square feet due to tower separation requirements with the adjacent Arthur Erickson Place office tower (formerly the MacMillan Bloedel Building).

“The site is too small to support an office building. Council has the option of making a bold decision to provide some relief in the housing crisis or keep the site a two-storey aged parkade. It is unlikely to ever be an office building that’s envisioned in policy.”

Reliance will present an amended proposal to the city this week, which reduces the number of units – both market-rental and below-market workforce housing – from a total of 484 units to 429 units, but adds 72 hotel rooms.

“In our amended proposal, while there is some reduction of homes, including workforce housing, we have created direct jobs and benefits for the tourism industry, which we believe should further encourage council to approve the project for public hearing,” says Stovell.

He says they’ve received more than 20 letters of support from various organizations, including the Ambulance Paramedics of BC, local restaurants, hotel operators, builders, property managers, and business owners.

More than five million square feet of office space is either planned or under construction in downtown Vancouver, with Reliance Properties’ developments accounting for one million square feet. 

Council will consider the amended proposal on Thursday, July 21.

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Peter Meiszner
Peter Meiszner
Peter Meiszner is an experienced journalist and media relations professional, based in Vancouver. As founder of urbanYVR.com, he has been reporting on urban development across the Lower Mainland since 2016, and has also served as vice-chair of the Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee. In October 2022, he was elected to Vancouver city council and is no longer actively reporting for urbanYVR.

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