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First-of-its-kind Deal by Transit Station: Expansion of Ashley Mar Co-op

ashley-mar-coop

First-of-its-kind deal in Canada leads to expansion of Ashley Mar co-op and creation of 524 secured market rental units next to transit in City of Vancouver

Maximizing the opportunity to increase non-market housing offering by transit

With the implementation of the Marpole Plan in 2014, the opportunity to increase non-market housing presented itself near the Marine Drive Canada Line Station in Vancouver. The buildings of Ashley Mar Co-op (founded in 1983) were beginning to reach the end of their useful life. With the co-op’s 54 units sitting on approximately 1.5 acres of land, the Colliers team led by Hart Buck, Oliver Omi and Jennifer Darling saw the opportunity to increase the number of co-op units in a new tower at no cost to the members. This could be achieved by exchanging surplus land on the property to a market developer in return for constructing a new co-op tower.

The Colliers team began the process by sending out a request for proposals (RFP) to a select group of qualified development partners. After an exhaustive search, the co-op selected Intracorp, which has a track record of successful partnerships with other non-profit groups. Careful consultation took place with co-op members to understand the needs and wants of the residents as well as to address their concerns about the project. After several rounds of workshops and deliberations and multiple iterations, a proposal was accepted that would see the co-op relocated to the quieter southwest corner of the site on Ash Street, with two market towers located adjacent to the co-op.

Lack of housing supply calls for change in strategy

While planning was taking place, tight supply in the Vancouver rental market continued to put pressure on rental rates, exacerbating the housing crunch. It was at this point that the project was revised to incorporate secured-market rentals instead of condos and a new application was submitted to the City of Vancouver. This new proposal would satisfy the City’s desire for increased rental supply to grow and expand non-market co-op housing and reduce the need for cars by densifying areas around stations.

After several years of discussions and negotiations with the City, the project took its final shape, and an official rezoning application was filed.

Unanimous project approval a positive outcome for all parties

The Colliers team is proud to have planned and executed the transaction on behalf of the Ashley Mar Co-op and thanks all parties involved in getting the project approved by Council. The team extends a special thank you and acknowledgement to members of the Ashley Mar Co-op who spent countless hours working diligently to keep the project moving forward despite the challenges along the way. Their vision and dedication to the future of the co-op were critical in getting the City on board with the project.

The new three-tower project will add to the growing Marine Gateway Node (Gateway to Vancouver from Richmond). The team’s strategy and creative thinking resulted in a win for the co-op, developer and City of Vancouver.