Why has Vancouver City Hall Put Gastown’s Heritage Conversions on Hold?

At least seven Vancouver Gastown condo projects are in limbo as City Hall nixed its heritage revitalization program.

City Hall established a Heritage Building Rehabilitation Program for Gastown, Chinatown and the Hastings Corridor in 2003 and it was scheduled to run til 2008. It was designed to cover cost shortfalls for complete building rehabilitation. It also included a density bonus and property tax relief.

The City has now declared that Vancouver’s Gastwon Heritage  program will be suspended pending further study. Of the 12, 5 were allowed to proceed and the remaining seven were excluded.

The density bonus is a key incentive to redevelop, rather than tear down heritage buildings to redevelop rather than tear down heritage buildings.  It allows developers to increase the square footage of buildings in other area.

Salient Group has had seven buildings in Vancouver’s Gaston Heritage program and “$100 million of investment going into incented projects that goes directly to bolstering the economic environment in these areas.” They are selling some of the density it’s been given and incorporating some of it into its new projects.

Salient’s Fung said that until “the city determines how it’s going to implement its heritage revitalization incentive program, further investment in the area by Salient is at a full halt”.

Vancouver’s senior heritage planner, Marco D’Agnostini, said the Vancouver Gastown Heritage Program was suspended “because the city was concerned that a potential surplus of transferable density would reduce its market value”

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Weigh in – what is you opinion on Vanouver’s Gastown Heriage program? Is it good for the neighbourhood? Should it continue or not? Do you live in the neighbourhood and if so, has the Heritage Program been a benefit to it and how?

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