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Oct. 2, 2022

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Vancouver sees transit hub, commercial and mixed-use development for Evergreen, Grand corridor

Parking standards, building heights would change but new uses inconsistent with corridor concepts would be prohibited

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
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The Vancouver City Council unanimously approved the first hearing for a strategy to strengthen commercial districts within Vancouver. The first phase of the project focuses on the Evergreen and Grand Boulevard and is part of a larger Commercial Corridors Strategy.
The Vancouver City Council unanimously approved the first hearing for a strategy to strengthen commercial districts within Vancouver. The first phase of the project focuses on the Evergreen and Grand Boulevard and is part of a larger Commercial Corridors Strategy. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A strategy to strengthen an aging commercial district in central Vancouver will move to a second hearing and public hearing, the Vancouver City Council decided Monday.

Council members unanimously approved the first reading of the Evergreen and Grand Commercial Corridors Strategy. The 46-page document provides an outline for the future direction of properties along lower Evergreen and Grand boulevards.

City staff say the area, which is lined with older commercial buildings and single-family homes, is an opportune location to promote businesses and make more accommodating for pedestrians.

Specifically, the city is proposing a bus transit hub at the intersection of Grand and Mill Plain boulevards and commercial and mixed-use corridors and a residential mixed-use corridor in the area. Parking standards would be adjusted for the residential and commercial developments.

The maximum building height would be increased to five stories near the intersection, with four-story buildings permitted along Grand Boulevard and sections of Evergreen Boulevard. Maximum building heights along the remaining sections of Evergreen Boulevard would be limited to three stories.

Regulatory recommendations would prohibit new uses that are inconsistent with corridor concepts — such as gas stations, storage facilities and drive-thru restaurants — but preexisting establishments would remain. City staff also suggested adopting standards for vacant or under-used spaces, among other adjustments to enhance developments.

Staff would also investigate opportunities to support people experiencing homelessness in the area and promote community safety.

Staffing and financial resources for recommendations would be addressed after the plan is adopted, City Manager Eric Holmes said during the workshop.

The proposal is set for a second reading and a public hearing on the strategy Feb. 28

If approved, the strategy would be implemented in zoning codes and other measures, which would likely be introduced this year. The strategy was unanimously recommended by the Vancouver Planning Commission in December 2020 and previously discussed in council workshops.

Council members shared excitement for the project during a Feb. 7 workshop on the matter.

Previous community feedback highlighted concerns about the appearance of new developments among existing buildings and parking spillover in surrounding neighborhoods. However, there was also a desire for more local eateries, shops and other neighborhood amenities in the area.

There was general support for landscaping with wider sidewalks, greenery, traffic-calming measures and gathering spaces. The consensus was in favor of including local businesses as opposed to chains through funding assistance, though there were concerns about maintaining affordability in the area.

The Evergreen and Grand project is a part of the city’s Commercial Corridors Strategy, an effort introduced in 2019 to improve Vancouver’s major commercial corridors, transportation and pedestrian access to services. City staff said the project would increase housing opportunities for people living along the corridor and support job growth.

Due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the project direction focused on Evergreen and Grand instead of more areas to preserve resources. Additional projects include addressing the St. Johns and St. James couplet, as well as Fourth Plain and Mill Plain boulevards. Project times have not been determined.

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