Five high-rises eyed for Kiwanis Court lands

An artist
An artist's rendering of Polygon's proposed Carrera development; aerial view from southwest.
— image credit: Polygon image

A senior falling through a water-damaged floorboard has “accelerated” a drive to relocate remaining Kiwanis Court residents as city council mulls a massive redevelopment plan for the Minoru Boulevard complex.

Just 69 of the 122 units at the half-century-old complex are still occupied, according to a new city staff report detailing a new five-tower proposal for the land bordering Minoru Park.

Richmond Kiwanis Senior Citizens Housing Society has partnered with Polygon to build 631 homes at 6251 Minoru Blvd. Two towers—296 units—would be rental apartments for seniors with limited income, and owned by the Kiwanis society. The other 335 units would comprise Polygon’s proposed Carrera condominium development.

If approved, density on the two-hectare (five-acre) site would increase by five times and require city council to re-designate the area plan to allow for high-rise apartments.

Council’s planning committee endorsed the project Tuesday.

“It provides for seniors’ housing and affordable housing, which is much-needed in the City of Richmond and will be much-needed in the future,” said Coun. Bill McNulty, committee chair.

In his report to council, planner David Brownlee said the site is ideal for seniors’ apartments, given its proximity to shopping, health care, transit and park amenities. Brownlee also noted the non-profit society’s partnership with Polygon is needed for the project to work.

“Without the market component and the proceeds from the sale of a portion of the Kiwanis site, it is highly unlikely that the affordable housing component could be undertaken by Kiwanis on its own given its limited resources and non-profit orientation.”

Paying the the ambitious project is a puzzle, in which taxpayers would play a role. Kiwanis stands to make millions with Polygon as a partner, but not enough to cover the $58.5 million cost of the society’s two towers.

Council is being asked to inject $5.5 million into the project from the city’s affordable housing reserve fund. More city cash would come from Polygon’s affordable housing contributions for its other projects around the city—some approved by council, some only in the planning stages.

“It’s a good use of those funds,” said McNulty. “Unless a partner like Kiwanis comes forward, those funds would never be used.”

Kiwanis Court tenants are getting help in finding interim accommodations and will have first option to return once the new buildings are finished.

Across Minoru Boulevard, however, Horizon Towers residents aren’t happy, as many will be losing their park views. They’ve already sent a few dozen opposition letters to the city. Tammy Hon is one letter-writer, who said there are too many high-rises in the area already.

“[I] don’t want to feel like living in a densely populated area like Burnaby. We are already having heavy traffic in Richmond, it will only make it worse if we allow more high-rises to be built in here.”

But staff say the proposal fully satisfies rezoning requirements and will serve the needs of a seniors population that will double by 2021.

Richmond currently has 206 subsidized apartments for seniors and 243 seniors on a waiting list, according to the city.

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