Developers of Oakridge Centre ask for more density in new rezoning application
The developers of Oakridge Centre, one of the largest real estate projects by size in North America and driver of the most expensive condo pre-sales by dollar value in Vancouver, are asking for major revisions to their future plans, seeking to build more density and swapping an entire luxury condo building for market rental.
Oakridge is a massive 28-acre site where a first phase of construction that will take four years to finish is currently underway. Pre-sale units went on the market in late 2018 and developers sold $1 billion in units in less than a year, more than the combined pre-sales for all downtown Vancouver developments during the same period, according to a Bloomberg report in December 2019.
A full rezoning of the site at 41st Avenue and Cambie Street took several years to complete.
On Wednesday, the city posted a new rezoning application submitted by Westbank and QuadReal and architect Henriquez Partners for the next phases of the Oakridge site.
The companies are hoping to glean more value from the site by being able to increase the maximum heights, adding nine storeys to 11 of the buildings approved in 2018.
In total, they seek to increase the overall density by about 10 per cent, from 3.71 to 4.10 floor space ratio, or what can be built compared to the size of a lot.
Their new proposal would require them to build 775 new housing units, including 319 additional market rental units and 94 moderate income rentals.
It also includes over 375,000 square feet in new office space and will see a decrease of about 100,000 square feet in what had previously been earmarked for market condo space.
One of the more significant changes is to Building 5 on the site, according to Vancouver Market, a blog by Colliers International broker David Taylor, which keeps track of investment and development activity in Metro Vancouver.
The building “will now be converted entirely to market rental housing with 52 storeys and 587 units. The tower will be 477 feet in height making it the tallest all rental tower in Vancouver,” wrote Taylor.
A note in the proposed rezoning revisions explains the rationale: “These changes ensure that this project remains resilient and feasible in the light of current conditions such as changing approaches to retail, a changing residential market and the needs of our community.”
The application cited “how dramatically the financial underpinnings of the project have changed,” and said that “over the past 18 months, changes to the retail sector that were underway before the pandemic have dramatically accelerated. Similarly, the changing residential market has reminded us that a project of this complexity and duration requires the flexibility to continually evolve.”
The new application cites allowances made by a city policy created in July 2019 after the original rezoning application for Oakridge was completed in 2018. Guidelines from the “Intensification of Large Sites to Include Moderate Income Rental Housing” policy have been used to make recommendations for two massive development sites in the area of Oakridge Centre, one that is across the street at the Oakridge Transit Centre and one that is about 15 blocks south at the Pearson Dogwood site.