Developer promises cash, not affordable housing

Richmond city council is set to consider another case of a developer having a change of heart on affordable housing.

Intracorp’s Hollybridge Limited Partnership had planned to construct a standalone building with 29 low-end market rental housing units as part of a multi-tower development of 586 homes in the Oval Village.

Now it’s seeking the city’s permission to pay $4.6 million into the city’s affordable housing fund instead of building affordable living units. The figure is based on the five per cent affordable housing required in exchange for a density bonus.

Intracorp’s development site, at 6888 River Rd. and 6900 Pearson Way, is near the Richmond Olympic Oval. Floor area originally intended for affordable housing would be used for market residential units and additional street-level commercial space, according to a staff report.

City staff are recommending council approve the change, and funnel the cash into an affordable housing project planned for city-owned land at 8111 Granville Ave., and scheduled for completion in spring 2016.

The addition of commercial space on the new road of Pearson Way would be “positive and can be expected to contribute to the vitality of this street,” according to a report from planner Suzanne Carter-Huffman.

If council approves, Intracorp wouldn’t be the first developer to trade the affordable housing requirement for cash.

A year ago city council voted 8-1 to grant the exclusion to developers of two new riverfront communities. Council dropped the low-cost rental housing requirement for River Green, near the oval, and Parc Riviera, near River Rock Casino Resort.

The move meant a loss of 100 affordable homes at the development sites, but netted the city $14.1 million for purpose-built affordable housing projects.

Two such projects are already on the go.

More than 100 subsidized rental housing units are planned for 8111 Granville Ave., a project bankrolled by $19.8 million in developer funds. Developers have also contributed to the $11.7 million the city is providing to Kiwanis Towers across from Richmond Centre, a Polygon project bringing 296 units of affordable rental housing for seniors to Richmond.

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