257 Belleville Street
Address: 257 Belleville Street
Region: Urban core
Condo units: 35 (1BR, 2BR)
Sales status: in planning
[James Bay - Victoria] 257 Belleville (Admiral Inn site) | 29.5m | 8-storeys | Approved
Posted 13 June 2008 - 09:10 PM
Posted 14 June 2008 - 12:43 PM
Posted 14 June 2008 - 01:36 PM
Posted 14 June 2008 - 05:43 PM
Three words: Site Specific Zoning.
Some JBNEA regulars seem so set on not having anything 'outside zoning' that we'll end up with only WorldMarts and Vicinos (without the extra floor and senior's housing).
Posted 14 June 2008 - 06:50 PM
Mention "site specific zoning" or "spot rezoning," and a well-known band of CA regulars is up in arms, taking those words as a sign from up high that "corporatist" shenanigans are imminent.
They don't understand that sometimes (not in each & every case, but often enough) "site specific zoning" equals "flexibility," and that without flexibility, the old body just kind of seizes up and ends up on crutches ...while the young leave, because who wants to live on constant life-support?
Every time they hear "site specific zoning," they think the end is near. Every time I hear it, I think Jane Jacobs's spirit is near.
Posted 14 June 2008 - 09:00 PM
Sure, I understand that some of you don't think that there should be any zoning at all, but if not, what process will replace it? Unless you feel that any piece of land can have anything at all built on it, some decision making process needs to be gone through. What are the criteria for spot zoning that makes one project possible and the next not?
I'm not saying status quo is good either - if crap can be built as long as it is within zoning, no doubt that is bad too. I'm just curious what other system people think would work better...
Posted 14 June 2008 - 10:36 PM
It seems it's important that people learn how to differentiate. No way am I saying that there shouldn't be any zoning at all. But I am upset by the divisiveness that some people seem to feed on, and that those people seem to want to get community plans carved in stone so that they have better ammunition with which to do battle against city hall. That's what drives me crazy. It's as though the battle becomes the constant (that which doesn't change), and the price is healthy growth for the city. And they exploit the fears of those who want some sort of assurance that nothing will ever change again in their lifetimes. It's a conflation of things that should be differentiated.
Sure, I understand that some of you don't think that there should be any zoning at all, ...
How about we learn to appreciate good change, so that we can critique bad change? Instead, we (or "they," i.e., the people I object to) lump all change into the "bad change" category.
Let me give you an example. There's a letter to the editor in the Fri. 6/13 Vic News (unfortunately not online, so I have to type it out...), where the letter writer does exactly what I just described: all change is bad, even though some of the changes she describes are in my opinion excellent and good changes. But it's all lumped into the same foul-smelling pot:
Our city just not the same anymore
My husband and I just returned from a trip to Italy and Croatia.
We were in the Frankfurt airport in between flights and decided to eat lunch. The waitress serving us asked where we were from. We said Victoria, B.C., not expecting her to know where it was, but she did. She had travelled to Victoria five years ago. She mentioned how much she loved the place with the "little monkeys."
We knew right away that she was referring to the Crystal Garden.
It saddened us to think that the one memory that stood out about Victoria for this woman was now gone.
The experience also made us realize how much our downtown has changed in five years, with more changes afoot.
I hardly recognize areas by St. Ann's Academy, there has been so much new development of hotels and condominiums. The area around the Empress seems stark with many empty businesses.
I know there are many groups working hard to sustain our downtown area. I hope the mayor and council will listen.
Once areas like the lawn bowling green and the Crystal Garden are gone, they are gone for good. Once these hotels and condominiums are built they are there for a very long time, forever changing the ambiance and beauty of our city.
The writer puts very different things together into the same category of "bad": the closure of the Crystal Gardens zoo is (in her mind) on the same level as the elimination of surface parking lots, for example.
Is this sane?
Have we forgotten how ugly that area was, scarred and pockmarked by those parking lots?
She lumps together the construction of hotels from 10 to 20 years ago, with the more recent construction of condominiums from the past ~3 years. Why? Because all change is ...bad. Untrustworthy. Sad.
Doesn't matter if it happened 20 years ago or 2: it's bad.
She lumps together the revitalization (through the infusion of residents and the elimination of empty -- and ugly, ok, call me biased! -- surface parking lots) with the woes of merchants who can't make a go with their crappy tourist trap retail ("...area around the Empress seems stark with many empty businesses").
And the thing that bugs me most of all is that certain people in the CAs use the sort of general feeling of foggy uncertainty expressed by this letter writer to launch attacks against any kind of healthy development in the city or their neighbourhood.
It's daylight madness, and no one seems willing to call a spade a spade. In the name of "resistance," the anti-change warriors prefer stagnation -- not least because they seem incapable of telling the difference between good and bad changes.
Those same people will go on and on about how "bad" our downtown has become, filled with beggars and addicts and the mentally ill. For them, that, too, is "the city"'s fault, and they then go on to put those changes (for the worse) into the same pot as the changes (for the better) that accrue around good developments that bring residents (i.e., dare I say such a "judgemental" thing?, normal people!) into the city. In other words, the proliferation of normal people as well as marginalized people is treated on the same plane: a change, and therefore a bad thing.
Sorry about the rant -- but this inability to differentiate drives me nuts.
Posted 14 June 2008 - 10:58 PM
Posted 15 June 2008 - 07:51 AM
Originally Posted by jklymak
Sure, I understand that some of you don't think that there should be any zoning at all, ...
Sorry about the rant -- but this inability to differentiate drives me nuts.
The "some of you" wasn't meant to include you specifically Ms. B!
I agree with most of your rant. However, I was talking about spot zoning being a broken process, one that is easily open to attack by CAs as being unfair. If you tell a part of town they are zoned for 6 story buildings and then you approve an 18 story building, people are going to be upset, join community associations, and subsequently fight any changes.
There have, indeed, been some on this board who think there should be no zoning (check out the 819 Yates thread). I don't agree with that, and, if I'm differentiating properly, it seems that neither do you. But what process should be put in place of the broken divisive process of spot zoning? I think no zoning would at least be more fair than spot zoning.
For what its worth, I don't see the problem with a good community plan. It seems the fairest process, whereas spot zoning a large fraction of the major new projects in the city seems wrong. The ammunition with a good community plan goes both ways - the CA can't complain about new projects that fall in the plan. If the complaint is that community plans can't be put in place fast enough, then perhaps that is the process that is broken? Maybe they could be updated on a 5-year basis?
Posted 15 June 2008 - 10:36 AM
Posted 15 June 2008 - 11:07 AM
We said Victoria, B.C., not expecting her to know where it was, but she did.
Now there's a Victorian for you. The average Canadian knows of countless European cities that are Victoria's size, but how the hell could an average European possibly know of Victoria? Maybe the average European bothers to travel every now and then? Or read magazines? Or glance at a globe or atlas? Good gravy.
I think zoning is great. The problem I have with zoning is when it's completely made up. In the case of this triangle proposal, it sounds like we've got the same old scenario whereby Victorians who live in tall buildings (in this case, tall buildings right along the waterfront!) are complaining because somebody else might have the opportunity to also live in an equally tall building (albeit further from the water), but a much newer and probably much more attractive tall building than the ones in which they live (the Laurel Point/Harbourside condos). That bugs the hell out of me. Zoning should reflect the built form of the immediate area, not defy it. And zoning should NOT be an instrument by which a minority guarantees their exclusivity. That's ridiculous. And yet it's the Victorian way, time and time again.
I just can't accept the idea that people move into tall buildings in order to get away from tall buildings because they despise tall buildings and tall buildings are bad. If tall buildings are bad, then why do the people who live in them cherish their situations so much?
If the complaint is that community plans can't be put in place fast enough, then perhaps that is the process that is broken? Maybe they could be updated on a 5-year basis?
They've had 30 years to update the plan for the Laurel Point area.
Here's the key question: is that old Laurel Point condo building a good thing for the area or a bad thing? Are those old Harbourside condo buildings a good thing for the area or a bad thing? If they're a bad thing, then what possible harm could a newer (hopefully more attractive) building wreak? The Laurel Point area is already ruined, isn't it?
On the other hand, if the old buildings are a good thing and the Laurel Point area is in fact perfectly nice (much nicer than it was before the first residential/hotel projects came along in the 1970s), then where's the sense in opposing a newer version of same?
Posted 15 June 2008 - 11:23 AM
I hardly recognize areas by St. Ann's Academy, there has been so much new development of hotels and condominiums.
It was all parking lots!! You'd also hardly be able to recognize that area if they had set up a bunch of tents and few doghouses!! (instead of hotels and condominiums)
For the record, we've got one new hotel there (the Marriott - 4 years old). Victorians are trying to alter the space-time continuum when they claim the Executive House (1960s) or the Chateau Victoria (1970s) are new. New windows on the Executive House do not a new building make.
Posted 15 June 2008 - 11:39 AM
Posted 15 June 2008 - 12:12 PM
Posted 15 June 2008 - 12:22 PM
same old scenario whereby Victorians who live in tall buildings (in this case, tall buildings right along the waterfront!) are complaining because somebody else might have the opportunity to also live in an equally tall building
I don't think there is anything wrong or hypocritical with people protecting their interests. The advantage of a community plan and zoning in general is that it is an impersonal process, so folks can look at the broad picture and understand how their interests play into it.
Look at it this way - I buy a 2-story house in Fairfield and the surrounding buildings are zoned max 3 stories. Then the city comes along and approves a 10 story building next door. I think we can all agree that I would have a pretty strong cause for complaint.
Why is the situation different for someone who bough a condo on Laurel Point? If the land next to their house is zoned for 3-story residential, why should they not protest if a 10 story building is proposed? Are their property rights less valid than the SFH owner's just because they live in a 10 story building? That makes no sense to me.
Does that mean that property should be 3-story residential in perpetuity? Of course not. The city should periodically replan and rezone. If Laurel Point needs to be rethought out, and I agree it does, then rethink it out, present the citizens of the city with the plan, let the neighbours belly ache, and then rezone it if enough of the rest of the city thinks it is a good plan for the city.
When those original condos were being dreamed up, the city should have presented a comprehensive plan for what the nearby neighbourhood would be like and zoned accordingly. Instead its being planned piecemeal by spot zoning, and that is bound to make folks upset. I'm trying to argue for a better, more predictable process.
Posted 15 June 2008 - 01:34 PM
If the land next to their house is zoned for 3-story residential, why should they not protest if a 10 story building is proposed? Are their property rights less valid than the SFH owner's just because they live in a 10 story building? That makes no sense to me.
Did it make sense when the zoning was changed to allow their highrise to be built?
Speaking of sense, I'd like to see common sense rule for once, instead of all these competing interests trying to manipulate the rules in their favour. Obviously, if Laurel Point was a good spot for five midrise/highrise buildings then it's likely also a good spot for a sixth (if any suitable properties remain in an undeveloped or underdeveloped state). It makes no sense to me that somebody would buy a unit in a highrise beside a parking lot or an empty lot and seriously believe that nobody would ever want to develop that empty lot with something of a similar scale to the adjacent highrise. Common sense should tell us that other people would value the view and the location just as much as the folks in the extant highrise value it. Future developments are absolutely predictable.
The situation only becomes unpredictable (and non-sensical) when folks in the highrise (or midrise, or lowrise, or SFD) try to manipulate the rules so that nothing similar to their building can be built nearby. It makes no sense to prohibit highrises and midrises in a district full of highrises and midrises. During the whole Y-lot/Aria/Fall brouhaha, everybody was obsessing about the rules while ignoring the district's actual built form. Was that sensible? Is it really sensible to pretend major buildings don't exist? Is it really sensible to count on inexplicable zoning that aims to preserve a parking lot in perpetuity?
I'm suggesting that every property owner's rights should be equal. Nobody should be favoured, and nobody should be allowed to try to manipulate the rules in their favour.
Posted 15 June 2008 - 01:44 PM
The thing is, I don't ever recall anybody going mad and losing their sense of direction and whatever else whenever a major building disappeared. Did folks in James Bay freak when the grain elevators were knocked down? Were people having fits on Douglas Street when the Campbell Building or the Permanent Loan Building ceased to be? Did businesses go bankrupt because people couldn't navigate through downtown? Did people gripe that they weren't going to go downtown anymore because there weren't enough tall buildings?
It's interesting that mayhem is caused by the introduction of new major buildings but it's never caused by the elimination of old major buildings.
Posted 15 June 2008 - 01:52 PM
Posted 15 June 2008 - 02:16 PM
Speaking of sense, I'd like to see common sense rule for once,
I agree. I just think that if its common sense, then it can be officially zoned before a proposal is put forth. I'd like to see the "plan" put back in the Planning Department rather than ad hoc changing the rules. If the zoning laws violate common sense and whats best for the city, they should be changed.
FWIW, I think this proposal is great, plus or minus some aesthetic quibbles. I'm just trying to point out why the system seems so acrimonious and suggest it could be improved upon.
Posted 15 June 2008 - 07:43 PM
People see a 3 storey house on a lot and assume that is what the lot is zoned. Many areas in and around downtown and obviously much smaller then what the lot is zoned.
What is the current zoning on this lot anyways?
As for constantly updating the zoning well it sounds nice but this comletely does nopt allow for the amzing building that does not completely conform.
The city planning department does not have the resources to do plans more often that is for sure.
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