Wednesday, June 20, 2012

High-rise heights getting more attention

As the following editorial in the Burnaby NewsLeader suggests, the approval of new projects involving 45-plus story buildings is starting to garner more attention in the city as town centres like Brentwood continue to fill in and build up with high-rise developments.

Burnaby NewsLeader - Opinion
EDITORIAL: Burnaby rapidly changing into a soaring city

Burnaby’s town centres are rapidly changing. Metrotown, Brentwood, Edmonds and Lougheed are rife with construction cranes as these four areas densify. The growth is particularly fast in Brentwood and Metrotown, both on SkyTrain, both a short jaunt to downtown Vancouver.
Some have voiced concern that new towers are now reaching stratospheric heights, with Metrotown’s Station Square redevelopment to have a tower of 57 storeys, and the redevelopment of Brentwood Mall eyeing a 60-storey skyscraper.
Why so tall? That’s what Metrotown-area resident Carly Franklin asked in this paper recently, and it’s a legitimate question. Won’t the influx of new residents mean jammed libraries, community centres and parks?
As far as density goes, the plan for the town centres is no surprise. Burnaby’s Official Community Plan has charted the growth in these areas for decades. They were always meant to be busy, but in some ways they are only now coming to fruition. The soaring heights, though, are new.
The city now lets developers go higher on specific sites—achieving more density—in return for building amenities for the city or paying cash in lieu.
And it’s not petty cash.
The Solo project in Brentwood will encompass four towers, and the city will get a 4,000-square-foot facility for local non profit groups. In addition, the city will get $30 million in cash from Jim Bosa’s Appia Developments. Twenty per cent will go to Burnaby’s fund for affordable and special needs housing, which has supported worthwhile projects like the Poppy Residences, built by Royal Canadian Legion Branch 83 in South Burnaby.
The rest, $24 million, will go a long way towards building bigger, better libraries, community centres, and parks. These new shiny towers will certainly change the look and feel of the town centres. Whether a person likes the look and feel of the changing neighbourhood, well, that’s another question altogether.

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