News / Vancouver

Towers on horizon for 100-year-old Sinclair Centre in downtown Vancouver

The four heritage buildings that make up the century-old Sinclair Centre could soon transform into tall towers, a proposal that could leave the brick Waterfront Station on the edge of historic Gastown surrounded by glass buildings.

City staff received council’s approval Wednesday to consider an application by Public Works and Government Services Canada to nearly quadruple the density at 757 West Hastings Street to a total of 1.1 million square feet of office space.

In order to reach that density, the city would consider rezoning the site for towers as tall as 29 storeys, senior downtown planner Michael Gordon told council.

Gordon was adamant the redevelopment would not infringe upon existing view corridors and that the heritage buildings will be preserved to the “greatest extent possible.”

There are already plans underway to build a 31-storey tower next door to the Sinclair Centre across the street from the station and a 26-storey tower in the parking lot next door to the station.

But planning staff told council there is demand for office space downtown, especially near the central transit hub with the Canada Line, Expo and Millennium Lines, the SeaBus and West Coast Express.

“I don’t think you could find a better site for transit in the province,” planner Kevin McNaney said.

The federal government wants to build on the site to consolidate its offices around the region, said Steve Kelly, Public Works and Government Services Canada’s regional director of real estate services.

“This particular application is looking for a low-cost solution to ensure jobs stay within the City of Vancouver,” Kelly said. “Right now as costs increase it’s pushing us outside of Vancouver… we are looking at this site as being accessible to transport.”

Council’s decision to consider the application does not mean it will ultimately rezone the land. Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr was the sole dissenting voice.

“I am absolutely unsure if we could protect heritage and proceed with the kind of density begin suggested in these guidelines,” Carr said.

The applicant will move forward with designs and public consultation prior to submitting a rezoning application.

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