On the eve of the second Onni public hearing Monday evening, I am still amused by Onni's multiple advertisements in the North Shore News and the perception Onni would walk away free and clear and develop elsewhere.
In my many years of development experience, a developer and seller agree to a purchase price subject to the developer obtaining approvals from relevant authorities (i.e. the city) within a defined time. Contrary to this practice, Onni bought a large portion of the "Safeway" property for $37,500,000 in September 2010 without receiving development approval. Prudent business practices would indicate they could build a development consistent with the city OCP at the existing floor space ratio (FSR) of 2.6 plus allowable incentives and make money.
Proponents of the project have extolled the provision of 6,100 square feet of daycare and 12 subsidized housing units. These incentives are covered in the bylaws. For this charitable contribution, Onni are permitted to build an additional 96,400 square feet of building which, in my estimate, costs $6.4 million. This incentive works out to 53 per cent of the cost per buildable square foot they paid for the land.
Most importantly, there is an additional 98,000 square feet in their proposal that is not being addressed. This additional buildable plus the allowable FSR plus incentives brings the overall FSR up to 4.57.
Based on the land purchase price, FSR of 2.6 plus allowable incentives, this additional 98,000 square feet buildable has a value of more than $12 million.
The additional 98,000 square feet should be deleted from the development unless the municipality receives a benefit proportional to the bonus. This concept is being debated by city council in the form of an amenity fund (City Seeks Advice on Density Bonusing, North Shore News, Feb. 13). May I suggest the $10-million Harry Jerome complex funding shortfall be paid by Onni?
As mentioned, the proposed FSR sits at 4.57. The Prescott development directly south of Safeway on 13th Street (1250 Lonsdale Ave.) has been mentioned by Onni supporters as a direct comparable. There, however, the developer (Wesgroup) attained additional density from transferring allowable buildable square footage from the existing North Shore Credit Union building at 1100 Lonsdale Ave. and from Presentation House, as well as employment and green incentives. The Prescott and 1100 Lonsdale Ave. are built to a combined FSR of 3.2. The existing NSCU building cannot be redeveloped to a greater height, density or residential use at any time.
From a developer's perspective: Has council considered the impact of the 98,000 square feet of additional market housing on competitive developers' acquisition and construction planning for central Lonsdale? The scale of the Onni project will saturate this market and deter competition.
I wish to emphasize three points:
? I am not and have never been anti-development. Based on current OCP criteria, the redevelopment of these lands would bring temporary and permanent employment, business support and vitality to the community.
? The project is inconsistent with current projects in Central Lonsdale. This will set a precedent for future developments in the city to begin with Onni's density and height gains and go up from there.
? Onni rolled the dice and now own a very expensive parking lot with two dilapidated buildings.
Richard Hancock, North Vancouver