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Market Information – South Granville Speculation Selling

Whole blocks of houses may be for sale on south Granville, but city hall has no plans to allow Cambie corridor-style
development along that street, head planner Brian Jackson said last week.

“We’ve made it clear we’re not interested in opening up that area,” he told NRU in an interview. “We’re doing everything we can to meet with realtors to say there is no policy basis now to consider [redevelopment]. “We’re doing everything we can to stop speculating outside the policy areas.” Jackson said the only development that could be considered would be affordable rental or “affordable homeownership” projects under the city’s interim rezoning policy, which allows for higher densities along arterial routes.

However that is unlikely, given land values in Kerrisdale. Most Granville assembly sales are taking place between 41st and 49th, with one north of 41st. One realtor has listed two entire blocks of houses. The closest “policy area” to the blocks currently for sale on Granville is Marpole, where row houses are allowed from 57th south to 62nd, with apartment buildings four storeys and up south of that.

Taller buildings and mixed uses are permitted along Granville between 68th and 71st. Jackson said buyers might be assembling land in the hope of banking it until rezoning does take place along Granville, but the city is in no hurry to do that. He said the city will concentrate its densification efforts on areas like Grandview Woodland, Marpole and Norquay. Mayor Gregor Robertson has asked the provincial government to consider a real estate speculation tax, but B.C.’s finance minister is not keen on the idea.

Jackson also expressed concern that some of the properties in the Granville assemblies contain heritage and character houses. Granville also runs through Shaughnessy, where the city is moving to encourage owners to retain older historic mansions and houses with character by making that neighbourhood a heritage conservation area. City council last week heard an update on staff work on the new heritage action plan, which includes a zoning review of character and pre-1940 houses in single-family area,
incentives for owners to retain them and an update of the heritage register.

Several speakers urged council to do what it can to protect older houses, including further ways of adding density to single-family lots. “We have to start thinking about these [houses] as an endangered species,” writer and heritage advocate Caroline Adderson said, noting that old houses were built to last. “We’re throwing out the silverware and using plastic forks. “Families today don’t stand a chance against developers looking for building lots.” She also said council should make it as inconvenient as possible for people to tear down older houses — such as requiring sellers to dispose of appliances and send kitchen cupboards to resale stores.

Other speakers called for greater re-use of building materials from demolition of older houses, something council earlier voted to support. Council also approved spending up to $73,250 for a pilot program to offer grants to owners of character homes to upgrade their energy efficiency. The heritage work is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

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