Posted Jan 7, 2009, 9:05 PM
Join Date: Jul 2001
From the Richmond News:
Sun Tech Gets Reprieve
Developers renege on several vital conditions for neighbourhood
Alan Campbell, Richmond News
Published: Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Call it a stay of execution; call it a reprieve.
Whatever you call it, the developers behind one of Richmond's biggest ever housing developments have been given one last chance to get their act together. City council made the surprising decision Tuesday night to go against a staff recommendation to ditch plans for the 16-tower Sun Tech City in north Richmond.
The staff report stated that the joint developers, Pinnacle International and Concord Pacific, had not fulfilled rezoning bylaw conditions previously made 20 months ago, such as putting $15 million up front to build a Canada Line station at Capstan Way.
But after hearing from the developers' representatives, council gave them one last chance to get their heads together and meet the city's strict conditions before a fourth reading can be given to the ambitious plans.
Both parties now have until March 2 to come back to city hall with compliance of the previously agreed conditions - such as the Capstan station funding, affordable housing and a child care facility. Mayor Malcolm Brodie, however, gave the developers short shrift and sent them away Tuesday night in no doubt this was their last kick at the can.
"There's no question that people have been acting in good faith and the consequences for this not going ahead runs deep," Brodie said.
"For me to support (an extension), I want to make it clear that this matter has to be finalized so it can go to the fourth reading.
"I have to be convinced that substantial progress has been made."
Coun. Harold Steves went further, saying he wanted to see all of the city's rezoning conditions met.
"If the Capstan station funding, affordable housing and child care are not met, then I will not be supporting this any longer," he said.
"If we wait (for a future developer) then we can get a better deal.
"I'm not impressed by what has happened, but I will give this one last chance."
Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt, chair of the city's planning committee, had said before the meeting that she has seen this project failing from a "long way off." City staff had advised to shelve the Sun Tech City plans because the developers were now only willing to put $500,000 up front towards construction of a Capstan station, as opposed to $15 million originally promised.
If the project goes ahead as planned, the currently vacant area, bound by No. 3 Road, Sea Island Way, Sexsmith Road and Capstan Way, would be transformed into a mixed-use neighbourhood with 16 high-rises, a series of mid-rises and a total of 2,136 homes.
"Something had to give somewhere and basically I don't think the city is willing to budge on this one," Halsey-Brandt said before Tuesday's meeting.
"We gave them rezoning for this on the basis of certain conditions. We simply can't have this size of development there without the Capstan station."
The developers had earlier asked for an extension past the Nov. 28, 2008 deadline for rezoning conditions to be met, citing economic conditions as a reason for not being able to fulfill their end of the deal.
"What's the point of extending it? The economy is not going to turn around that quickly," Halsey-Brandt said.
"It's better to just scrap the whole thing and then, when the time comes again, the same conditions can then be met."
Neither of the developers returned Richmond News' calls by press time. Without the developers chipping in the $15 million for the Capstan station, it's unclear if Richmond will get its fifth city centre Canada Line station.
But that's neither here nor there, Halsey-Brandt said, as the station and the housing development were interdependent.
"Without the development, there's not going to be all these thousands of people living there, so there's no need for a Capstan station," she said.
"Yes, we'll not have the amenities that were planned for there, but we won't have the people there either.
"At least this way we can start afresh when someone can get their act together."
In addition to the station, Richmond stood to benefit from Sun Tech City with 100 affordable housing units, a child-care facility for 25 kids, roads and parks. According to the staff report that went before council Tuesday, the developers said they would pay only $500,000 initially toward the station and the remainder when the larger development was half completed.
"The developers' proposal is NOT acceptable to TransLink," the report said.
Sun Tech City was to be built on 17 acres of land, but the report stated that the developers have not met the city's child-care and affordable-housing stipulations either. Two-thirds of the site is owned by Pinnacle International, while the rest is owned by Concord Pacific.
The City of Richmond's chief administrative officer, George Duncan, highlighted in a letter last May several areas of disagreement between the two developers and also offered to appoint an arbitrator.
© Richmond News 2009