Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Business in Vancouver - "Rural history preserved in Bose Farms development; housing affordability spread varies by municipality"

When development rolls across farmland, it's usually a case of barn razings rather than barn raisings.

Abbotsford-based Rempel Development Group is turning the tables on the traditional scenario, however, with its development of the Ridge at Bose Farms, to be launched at the beginning of October.

Rempel has an 85-acre slice of the original 340-acre farm established on the site in 1892 by Henry Bose. It intends to build 253 units in four low-rise buildings on approximately 7.5 acres of the property.

The centerpiece will be the farm's original 1936 barn and dairy shed, as well as the surrounding yard.

“The barnyard will look like what it would have in 1936,” said John Rempel, president of RDG Management Ltd. “It will be a pretty spectacular building. It will be very significant, very prominent on the hill.”

The shed will remain a shed while the barn, formerly used to store potatoes, will provide space for meetings, movies and other events. And it will remain very much a barn – restored but unfinished, without drywall, an ambient environment preserving all the freshness of the original farm.

While the restoration of the structures wasn’t cheap, it stands as a rare example of preserved farm buildings in an urban setting. While the Salt building on False Creek and the nearby Opsal Steel building have been incorporated into their surrounding developments, barns are usually tumble-down structures whose heritage value is overlooked.

Rempel doesn’t see it that way.

“It was important ... so that people in the future would have an idea what a farm looked like up on the hill,” he said.
Affordable ownership
Columns in this paper and elsewhere have taken advantage of a release of the latest National Household Survey, based on the 2011 census, to tap casks of ink regarding the question of affordability.

Yet the numbers Statistics Canada presents hold a surprise – for many people, home ownership is more affordable than renting. Regionally, just 27.6% of homeowners dole out more than 30% of household income each month on shelter. This compares with 44.7% of renters who face unaffordable shelter costs.

StatsCan’s data indicates that housing in Electoral District A – the UBC endowment lands – is the least affordable in Metro Vancouver, with 54.8% of households in unaffordable housing. Renters are particularly hard hit, with a stunning 68.8% in unaffordable accommodation.

Delta and Langley Township have some of the least vulnerable residents, with just 23.5% and 27.3% of their residents, respectively, in unaffordable housing.

Meanwhile, Pitt Meadows is hospitable to renters, with just 34.8% facing unaffordable shelter costs.
But what’s most surprising in the latest data is how low shelter costs can go and still rank as unaffordable.

Langley City, for example, has the region’s cheapest average rents, at $877 a month – more than $200 less than the Vancouver average of $1,089. Yet shelter costs are unaffordable for 48.7% of tenants, a greater proportion than in Vancouver, where 46% of tenants lease unaffordable housing.

Burnaby also boasts cheaper average rents than Vancouver, but a greater proportion of overstretched tenants.
Speaking of Delta ...
Delta may be home to a large slice of affordable housing, and Surrey-based Blexo Developments Ltd. is poised to leverage that fact with the municipality’s first highrise development since the early 1990s.
The project will have 359 units in a concrete tower set to rise 37 storeys. It represents an investment of approximately $60 million, according to the B.C. Major Projects Inventory.

The project stirred strong emotions during the approval process. Residents surrounding the site at 11941 80th Avenue (at Scott Road) objected to highrise construction in what is largely a low-rise neighbourhood. The nearest towers are located across the street, but both are less than half the height of Blexo’s development.

Delta mayor Lois Jackson was unavailable for comment prior to deadline, but materials distributed before a press event slated for October 2 tout the tower as igniting “the economic rebirth of North Delta.” According to the press materials, Jackson expects further densification in the Scott Road corridor will follow Blexo’s lead."
Read the full article in Business in Vancouver here.