For Knight Street and King Edward Avenue, an indigenous social housing tower has been proposed

Before the start of public engagement, details of the proposed supportive housing project at the southeast corner of King Edward Avenue and Knight Street in Vancouver’s Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood have been disclosed.

The rezoning proposal at 1406-1410 East King Edward Avenue proposes to build a 185-foot-tall, 14-story permanent modular skyscraper to replace vacant land near Kingcrest Park and King Edward Village.

BC Housing first announced its intention to develop this land with affordable housing in February 2021, and the building’s operators have since been chosen: Vancouver Native Housing Society and Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society. This concept originally called for 90 supportive housing studio flats to be housed in a 12-story building.

Based on the finalised specifics, there will now be 109 supportive housing studio units for Indigenous people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, with two extra floors. Residents will have access to a variety of common amenities, multipurpose spaces, and dining areas on the lower levels, as well as indoor and outdoor amenity spaces on the tower rooftop.

The tower, designed by Stantec Architecture, would be constructed using a system of stacked steel structures, as well as Bird/Stack Modular’s pre-fabricated technique. This permanent construction, similar to Vancouver’s temporary modular housing structures, is planned to be built rather fast using this technology.

The structure is being developed to Passive House green building standards, in addition to cost effectiveness and speed.

The building’s facade will be highlighted by timber-like panels that soften its modular appearance. Large blank walls spanning the tower’s height could be blanketed by Indigenous-themed murals.

The total floor area is 77,313 sq ft, creating a floor area ratio density for a floor area that is 11.73 times larger than the size of the 6,588 sq ft lot. An underground level contains four vehicle parking stalls, some bike parking spaces, and utility and equipment areas.

City council is expected to reach the public hearing stage with this rezoning application early next year. If approved, construction could begin in the middle of 2022.

This King Edward/Knight project is one of BC Housing’s two permanent supportive housing tower proposals this year, with the other major project being a 13-story modular tower with 140 supportive housing units at a site at 2086-2098 West 7th Avenue and 2091 West 8th Avenue, next to SkyTrain’s future Arbutus Station. The Kitsilano proposal has sparked the most debate to date, owing to its close proximity to St. Augustine’s private elementary school.

Both projects contribute to the provincial government’s aim of developing 350 extra permanent supportive housing units in Vancouver by 2020, which was announced in September.

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