City council paves way for 4th Vancouvercenter tower

Unanimous vote approves amendment to development agreement

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer

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Vancouvercenter has the official go-ahead for its fourth tower.

The Vancouver City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the development agreement Monday evening that paves the way for the project’s future.

Vancouvercenter, at Sixth and Washington streets, is the largest development in downtown Vancouver. But a fourth tower has been waiting in the wings since the project was first approved in 1999. The amendment extends the development agreement which was set to expire at the end of the year, and according to a staff report, facilitate the tower’s completion.

The Vandevco project is being taken over by Holland Partnership Group, which plans to use a new light-gauge steel framing structure system to build a 10-story, 194-unit tower. The steel framework is an innovative building material that hasn’t been approved for a West Coast seismic zone.

“We’re going to give it our best in terms of looking at it, but not withstanding we’re going to have a quality building on this site,” said developer Clyde Holland.

If the steel framework doesn’t meet seismic standards, the fourth tower will be constructed using a wood frame and only stand six stories tall with 116 units. But Holland and his team say they are pushing for the 10-story tower. They are currently working with structural engineers to test the steel framing system.

“I think this is revolutionary,” said Councilor Bill Turlay.

Mayor Tim Leavitt said Vancouvercenter is the foundation for the revitalization of downtown Vancouver.

“It’s great to see the initial investment that occurred in downtown … is resulting in more private investment in downtown,” Leavitt said. “It’s another great opportunity to continue to boost what’s happening in our community.”

Parking concerns

Although the council is excited to see the project move forward after 20 years of waiting, the proposal is not without citizen concern. The largest issue brought forth during Monday’s public hearing is that of parking. Nearly 200 monthly permit-holders in the nearby public parking garage would lose their parking spots, including 40 spots currently used by the city.

“It’s important to understand the original project and the original intent was that the parking garage, which the city purchased from the developer, was first and foremost to serve the development,” said Chad Eiken, Vancouver community and economic development director, who added that the city has been fortunate to have access to the 194 spaces while development was stalled.

“Going forward the goal will be to minimize the impact on people who are parking there who live or work in the development,” Eiken said. The spots would be phased out with plenty of notice, he added.

Agreement details

The agreement stipulates that Holland must pay the city a $25,000 extension fee within three business days of council approval. Holland and his company also have 30 months from now to “substantially complete” the building or face a $3,000-per-day penalty until the project reaches that threshold. The developer will also pay the city for any lost revenue as a result of licensing the parking garage during construction.