The Little Mountain that Couldn’t

Apparently Vancouver has an affordable housing problem.

For buyers housing affordability is at a new low despite our problems with construction quality.

And lately we’re seeing more news stories about more families leaving BC due to the high cost of living.

So are we building more affordable housing?  Well, we’re trying I guess, but if you live in Vancouver you may have noticed a big vacant spot for homes just up Main street near Queen Elizabeth Park.

Several years ago the housing units at Little Mountain were torn down to make way for a new higher density housing development.

So why has nothing happened over those years?

According to Michael Geller it’s developer inexperience.

“The developer … doesn’t fully understand how to do business here,” Geller said in a phone interview.

Four years ago, BC Housing started moving the 224 residents of a social housing project into other subsidized homes. Now, only four residents remain in one building on the 6.2-hectare site by Queen Elizabeth Park and bounded by 37th and 33rd avenues and Main Street.

In June, a city report said there was a blueprint for Holborn Properties to redevelop the site with as many as 1,800 units in stepped towers up to 12 storeys, most buildings being four to 10 storeys in height. The province has committed to replacing all 224 social housing units plus another 10 for aboriginal residents. Most of the buildings at Little Mountain were demolished in 2009.

Geller also referred to the years of delays Holborn has faced in building a proposed 64-storey hotel and residential tower at West Georgia and Thurlow.

“If one wonders why this one is taking so long, one might also wonder why the same developer’s project on West Georgia took so long — although I see construction is finally underway,” he said.

“All of these things are symptoms of the lack of experience with high-profile, highly complex undertakings.”

So apparently we sold that land to a developer that doesn’t know how to get things done and to make matters worse, they bought it for an undisclosed sum right before the mini market crash of 2008.  If prices keep falling as they are now is anything going to get built there?

And if it does get built how much responsibility will the city end up taking for falling profit margins or ‘developer inexperience’? Are we looking at the potential for another Olympic Village scenario?

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Cameron Lereah
Guest
Cameron Lereah

Yo! I am FIRST on the blog!

Yeah Bitchez!

Nicer Looking Than The Wheelchair Guy
Guest
Nicer Looking Than The Wheelchair Guy

From http://www.vancouverobserver.com/politics/news/2011/11/20/vision-celebrates-landslide-victory-laments-cope-defeat

“It’s surprising (the results) and the NPA used attack ads. Those do work, they managed to win two seats,. And they had no incumbents, so you have to give them credit for that.

“The reality is that developers and businesses are quite comfortable with Vison and Gregor Robertson.”

———————

From http://fairquestions.typepad.com/rethink_campaigns/vision-vancouver-backed-by-a-charity.html

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Big Backer: A USA-Funded Charity?

———————

And from the “boys will be boys” file: http://www.richmondreview.com/news/136396633.html

Vancouver Mayor’s Gregor Robertson’s foster son facing drug, gun charges

———————

Is “the Gregor” just paying lip service to affordable housing to stay in power?

Does he even have a clue what the hell he’s doing?

Are the above links valid comments about his judgement, integrity, etc?

Vancouver voted him and his cronies in with a landslide. Now what?

If you’re voting down this post, please do post your comment.

patriotz
Member

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/housing/bc-housing-slowdown-signals-wider-slump/article4552373/

Mr. Muir said, “To see a substantial price decline, you need a macroeconomic shock or household financial disaster, writ large, which is what happened in the United States. You need a recession, high unemployment and extremely high interest rates, where people can’t afford to make their mortgage payments and houses get flooded on the market and there’s no one there to buy them because there are no jobs. But there’s no evidence of that here.”

No Cam, that’s not what happened in the US. What happened is that prices fell first and the macroeconomic shock, recession and unemployment were a result of that. And interest rates in the US today are a lot lower than at the market top in 2006.

As for evidence here, take a trip to Kelowna some time. Or just to Mission will do these days.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
UBC Master’s thesis on Little Mountain by Thomas Thomson (2010): The Death and Life of the Little Mountain Housing Project: BC’s First Public Housing Community http://hdl.handle.net/2429/30445 Abstract: Opened in 1954, Vancouver’s Little Mountain Housing Project was the first public housing project in BC and among the oldest in Canada. For more than half a century, Little Mountain provided subsidized rental housing for low and moderate income families and seniors. Throughout its years, Little Mountain was at the forefront of housing policy in BC. Little Mountain’s initial development in the 1950s spelled out how the federal-provincial public housing partnership would operate in BC. In the 1970s Little Mountain was the first public housing project in Canada managed by a committee of tenants. And today Little Mountain continues to be on the leading edge of provincial housing policy as it is the… Read more »
pricedoutfornow
Guest
pricedoutfornow

@patriotz:

Pretty clueless isn’t he? Or maybe just trying to rewrite history in a vain attempt to show how “it won’t happen here”. In regards to interest rates, I wonder if he’s referring to the teaser rates that reset to higher rates, causing people to not be able to make their mortgage payments? If rates go up here (will they ever?) we could see this happen here. But I’m sure tired of warning clients that rates are going up, like the boy who cried wolf.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
I think you are correct to point out that the Little Mountain redevelopment is similar to the Olympic Village in that both are shaping up to be major boondoggles. But the big difference from the Olympic Village is that the Little Mountain redevelopment involved the displacement of 194 families. Nobody was displaced from the Olympic Village. The Olympic Village development did not involve the direct displacement of anyone because nobody was living there, it was previously an industrial site. But Little Mountain was a residential community for more than half a century before the government came in to redevelop it. Thomson’s thesis shows how traumatic it was for many of these residents to be displaced. They were promised that they would be able to return to Little Mountain in about 2 years or by 2010. That promise clearly has not… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

You are correct to point out that the Little Mountain redevelopment is similar to the Olympic Village in that they are both massive boondoggles. But the key difference between these two redevelopments is that no one was displaced from the Olympic Village because it was a former industrial site. Little Mountain involved the displacement of 194 families. Many families were quite close with one another, even related to one another. They relied on each other for babysitting and rides to doctors appointments. But they have been sent all over the Lower Mainland.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
Michael Gellar is saying that the delays at Little Mountain are due to the inexperience of the developer, Holborn Properties owned by Joo Kim Tiah and his family. This is what Thomson had to say about the developer of Little Mountain in his Master’s thesis. Note the trouble Joo Kim Tiah’s father found himself in with the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange in 2002: “First, let us consider the soon-to-be new owners of Little Mountain. Holborn Properties is the family business of the Malaysian-based Tiah family. A great deal of information about the Tiah family is available publicly in on-line journalistic sources. The Tiahs are a family of tycoons headed by Datuk Tony Tiah and his wife Datin Alicia Tiah. Datuk Tony is the majority shareholder of TA Enterprise Berhad, which is a stock-broking company that is publicly traded on Bursa… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
Another interesting tidbit from Thomson’s thesis on Little Mountain is that a BC Housing staff member was caught running a marijuana grow operation in one of the suites in 2008 after most of the tenants had already been displaced. BC Housing did say that redevelopment/displacement would raise money, but who would have thought they were raising money THIS way!!! This should have been a major scandal but the media never reported it: “The lack of professionalism among BC Housing staff was made especially clear when one staff member was busted for setting up a marijuana grow-operation at Little Mountain. Several tenants have told me about the day in 2008 when they saw police bust a marijuana grow-operation in the caretaker’s suite. The caretaker was a BC Housing employee who lived in one of the Little Mountain units. Some tenants say… Read more »
patriotz
Member

August Teranet for Vancouver: % change y/y -0.27%, % change m/m -1.24%

That’s the first year over year decline for Vancouver since 2009, folks. The bust is on.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
The relocation of the Little Mountain tenants is one of the most disturbing similarities between this redevelopment and the old urban urban renewal programs of the 1950s, 60s. Urban renewal is a highly discredited approach to redevelopment and it is absolutely shocking that Vancouver, a city that brands itself as being at the leading edge of progressive urbanism, would be resurrecting urban renewal. Note the Africville residents in Halifax who were displaced from urban renewal in the 60s recently received an apology from the government. How long will the Little Mountain tenants have to wait for their apology? From Thomson’s thesis, p. 262: “The tenants who were closest with their neighbours at Little Mountain have experienced the greatest losses. One tenant was relocated to North Vancouver while the godmother of her children was relocated to Surrey. This tenant remarked, “Most… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
The relocation of the Little Mountain tenants all across the Lower Mainland is one of the most disturbing similarities between this redevelopment and the old urban renewal programs from the 1950s, 60s. Urban renewal is a highly discredited approach to urban development. The whole scale demolition of neighbourhoods and mass displacements of residential communities is something we learned not to do after the lessons from the 1960s. From Thomson’s thesis, p. 14: “By the early 1970s,” urban historian Jon C. Teaford writes, “urban renewal had become synonymous in the popular mind with bulldozers and heartless displacement of the poor and powerless. Consequently, its enduring lessons were primarily negative. It taught America what not to do in the future” Vancouver has branded itself as the greenest city in the world and an example of leading edge progressive urbanism. That is why… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
Social impacts of relocation of Little Mountain tenants, documented in Thomson’s thesis, p. 262: “The tenants who were closest with their neighbours at Little Mountain have experienced the greatest losses. One tenant was relocated to North Vancouver while the godmother of her children was relocated to Surrey. This tenant remarked, “Most of my friends, my network, my family were moved to Surrey.” Because there were multiple generations of the same family living at Little Mountain, relocation has literally broken apart families. Due to relocation, Brenda has been removed from her mother who lives in the seniors’ housing across the street and her daughter and grand-daughter who lived in another suite in the housing project. Brenda was relocated deep into the east side of Vancouver, while her daughter and granddaughter moved to the west side. Thus, four generations have been broken… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
Social impacts of relocation of Little Mountain tenants, documented in Thomson’s thesis, p. 262: “The tenants who were closest with their neighbours at Little Mountain have experienced the greatest losses. One tenant was relocated to North Vancouver while the godmother of her children was relocated to Surrey. This tenant remarked, “Most of my friends, my network, my family were moved to Surrey.” Because there were multiple generations of the same family living at Little Mountain, relocation has literally broken apart families. Due to relocation, Brenda has been removed from her mother who lives in the seniors’ housing across the street and her daughter and grand-daughter who lived in another suite in the housing project. Brenda was relocated deep into the east side of Vancouver, while her daughter and granddaughter moved to the west side. Thus, four generations have been broken… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
Social impacts of relocation of Little Mountain tenants, documented in Thomson’s thesis, p. 262: “Because there were multiple generations of the same family living at Little Mountain, relocation has literally broken apart families. Due to relocation, Brenda has been removed from her mother who lives in the seniors’ housing across the street and her daughter and grand-daughter who lived in another suite in the housing project. Brenda was relocated deep into the east side of Vancouver, while her daughter and granddaughter moved to the west side. Thus, four generations have been broken apart: Brenda: “Before I was visiting my mum once, two, three times a day…In the project I would go, I am going to light a cigarette. Oh, I’ll throw on my shoes and go have one with my mum. Go up there and then in the summer when… Read more »
RFM
Guest
RFM

One has to wonder about the competence of a company that, on its website, promotes a huge project with this:

“1151 WEST GEORGIA ST, VANCOUVER

The West Georgia tower was designed by the world renowned architect Arthur Erickson as an iconic, twisting structure that at 63 stories above the city would be Vancouver’s second tallest tower.

The overall design will incorporate a prominent hotel and destination restaurant, directly off of Georgia Street. The Residences will be located above the hotel, capturing some of the most inspiring views the city has to offer and providing a dramatic edition to Vancouver’s unique downtown skyline.”

Source: Holborn website at: http://www.holborn.ca/developments/upcoming-projects/1151-west-georgia

Riddled with grammatical mistakes, do they not care, or do they lack the interest and/or competence to get it right?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
Social impacts of relocation of Little Mountain tenants, documented in Thomson’s thesis: “Because there were multiple generations of the same family living at Little Mountain, relocation has literally broken apart families. Due to relocation, Brenda has been removed from her mother who lives in the seniors’ housing across the street and her daughter and grand-daughter who lived in another suite in the housing project. Brenda was relocated deep into the east side of Vancouver, while her daughter and granddaughter moved to the west side. Thus, four generations have been broken apart: Brenda: “Before I was visiting my mum once, two, three times a day…In the project I would go, I am going to light a cigarette. Oh, I’ll throw on my shoes and go have one with my mum. Go up there and then in the summer when it was… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Holborn is run by a bunch of amateurs.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
People tend to think that public housing projects like Little Mountain require massive government subsidies. In fact, many tenants had high enough incomes that they were paying market rents (rents that BC Housing considers reflect the market value of comparable private sector rentals). Also, the tenants’ rents covered the mortgage costs of Little Mountain. Little Mountain cost about $2 million to build in the early 1950s, amortized over 50 years, the monthly mortgage payment for each unit worked out to $35.48 per month. Average rent paid by tenants in 1954 when Little Mountain was first opened was $45. So the rents more than covered the mortgage. Public housing rents are based on incomes. Tenants incomes increased with inflation over the 50 year lifetime of Little Mountain. But the mortgage did not increase, it was locked in at 4% rate for… Read more »
X
Guest
X

@Anonymous: 33% off rent. sounds like a sweet deal. How do I get in on this racket?

Keeping An Eye On The Pimps
Guest
Keeping An Eye On The Pimps

Mr. Muir said, “To see a substantial price decline, you need….Pimp bs etc etc blah blah.” But there’s no evidence of that here.”

Cam I’m quite sure you log on to this site…. So questions for you?

Are you that stupid, or just condescending?

I say, this is a bubble and like all others it will burst; for it not to burst, human nature and economics would have to be re- engineered, and I don’s see any evidence of that, do you?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
@X: “33% off rent. sounds like a sweet deal. How do I get in on this racket?” If you have children and a low enough income you can go on the waiting list for BC Housing. Also, if you are over 55 with low income you can go on the waiting list for seniors housing with BC Housing. But unless you have a drug addiction or mental illness you will be waiting a LONG time! Under the BC Liberal housing policy (Housing Matters, 2007), people with drug addictions/mental illness are bumped to the top of the waiting list for BC Housing. Our public housing system for families/seniors is being reconfigured into a supportive housing system for people with addictions/mental illness. This Little Mountain redevelopment is all part of that. It used to be back in the 50s and 60s, that… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
Some history on Little Mountain architecture traced back to British Garden City movement, from Thomson, 2010, p. 86: “The design of the [Little Mountain] buildings was to “follow a pattern similar to that of the units constructed on West Broadway and West 4th Avenue under the Housing Enterprise Scheme.” This is a reference to veterans’ housing built in 1946—Vancouver’s first effort at government-supplied rental apartments, although technically not public housing because the rents were not subsidized. The design used at both the veterans’ housing and Little Mountain was the creation of architectural firm Sharp and Thompson, Berwick, Pratt. According to Wade (1994), the design was a “simplified and modernized” version of designs used by the British “Garden City, London County Council, and ‘homes for heroes’ designers between 1900 and 1930.” The design was also used at a housing project in… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
On the selection of the first Little Mountain families back in 1954, from Thomson, 2010, pp. 93-4 “The initial Little Mountain families were selected based on an “elaborate points system” that, in addition to income, considered such factors as the quality of their present living conditions, present security of tenure, crowding, present rents, credit worthiness, housekeeping and other factors. Depending on family size, minimum family monthly incomes were set at between $115 and $155. Maximum income was between $290 and $325 per month, depending on family size. Based on figures offered by Michael Wheeler in his analysis of the over 1700 applications for Little Mountain completed in 1954, the largest categories of rejection were high income (42%), lack of residence (21%) (apparently, homeless families were not accepted) and poor housekeeping (20%). Low-income senior citizens on pensions were allowed to live… Read more »
X
Guest
X

@Anonymous: Was it all white people?

wpDiscuz