Developer pitches Capilano University staff and student housing

A North Vancouver developer is pitching plans to build rental apartments exclusively for Capilano University students and staff, just off campus.

Darwin Properties has submitted an application to the District of North Vancouver to build 346 units of rental housing in two six-storey buildings, plus a cafe, at 1310 Monashee Dr.

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“We’re really excited about this project. We know there is a major housing crisis that is affecting the North Shore with the lack of rental housing and housing options for all different types of people,” said Darwin president Oliver Webbe, a CapU grad himself. “This gave us an opportunity, right next to the major transit hub on the university, to build some housing geared just towards Capilano University students and staff.”
Capilano University already rents a former boarding school on Old Dollarton Highway from Darwin for use as student residences. Webbe said the proposal fits within Capilano University’s campus master plan completed just last year.

Webbe said the company is just starting to crunch the numbers on what the rental rates would be.

“But we know they would have to be affordable for the university staff and students,” he added.

Currently, there is no outside subsidy planned for the project.

In order to limit the housing to CapU students and employees, there would have to be a covenant included as part of the rezoning process.

The property, which is immediately east of the school’s Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film & Animation, is zoned for parks, recreation and open space. It currently houses Northwest Kennels & Daycare and storage for industrial construction equipment. Darwin has agreed to purchase the 1.19-hectare lot, which was last assessed at $2,675,100, subject to District of North Vancouver council’s approval of the rezoning for the apartments.

Council has made it clear they intend to slow down residential development, but Webbe said he is predicting the staff and student housing project will fit within council’s vision.

“We’ve already connected with several of the council members before we made our application,” he said. “I’m hoping this council is going to be looking to advance this project as soon as possible.”

In a letter to the district, CapU president Paul Dangerfield urged council to support the project, as it would benefit the students and North Shore residents alike.

“With its immediate proximity to our main campus, the site is positioned to be an ideal location for student and employee housing,” he wrote. “As market rental housing for CapU students and employees, this includes the potential of reduced daily traffic congestion caused by students and employees commuting to campus by car and potential amenities such as walking paths, car sharing and food services that are open to the public. Time spent out of the car is time for study and for wellness - both of which contribute to the quality of life in North Vancouver.”

Webbe said Darwin will host a public information meeting to introduce the project to the broader community “within the next couple months.”

“We’re excited. We’re ready to get going,” he said.

The Capilano Students’ Union did not respond to a request for comment.

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