Five-Story Retail, Residential Building in Works for Vancouver

May 25--A proposed five-story residential and retail building could replace a handful of Cape Cod and bungalow-style homes in one of west Vancouver's older neighborhoods.

Developers proposing the $15 million to $18 million project for a square block in the Arnada neighborhood will need a zoning change on part of the site in order to build the taller building, which the project's designer says can blend with vintage homes in the area.

Preliminary plans for Arnada Commons call for a stair-step structure with a landscaped courtyard on the second floor and upper penthouse-floor wings.

"So it could be perceived as a smaller building" to fit with the neighborhood of single-family homes and offices, said project designer David Wark, of Portland-based Hennebery Eddy Architects.

Proposed by developers Warren Faleiro of California and Yury Rahubin of Vancouver, the mixed-use project is planned for a city block bordered by East 17th and East 16th streets and East D and East E streets. The site is a few blocks northeast of Vancouver's downtown business district.

The residential building would include 95 condominium units and as many as eight live-work units that incorporate street-level commercial space with living quarters. The design includes a three-level, 190-space parking garage situated in the center of the U-shaped residential structure, which would shield the parking space from exterior views.

"You won't even know there's parking in the building," Wark said. "We're trying to have a vibrant, viable project that adds a mix of uses while trying to be sensitive to the neighborhood context."

All but two lots on the proposed development site are zoned for mixed use, which would allow for the 75-foot-tall, five-story structure, said Greg Turner, a senior planner with Vancouver's Community Development Department.

"The two properties are zoned R-22," Turner said, referring to residential zoning that limits building heights to 50 feet.

Turner said the process of changing city zoning can take 90 to 120 days.

Faleiro said he expects the project to break ground within the next year, with completion scheduled in 2008 or 2009. The developers estimate the project will cost $14 million to $18 million to build.

Faleiro and Rahubin are purchasing most of the block for $1.3 million from Vancouver landowner Ashgar Sadri.

A Ukrainian native, Rahubin is interested in environmentally friendly, high-density urban development, said Sally Dillon, the developer's former project manager.

"He (Rahubin) is committed to using green building materials," she said.

In an e-mail, Rahubin said he's already shared development plans with neighborhood representatives and he'll continue to seek input as the project takes shape.

"Our promise to the neighbors was to closely work with the community in the planning of the project," he wrote, adding that the project is "in a conceptual stage at this point."

In its prime in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, the Arnada neighborhood was named after a primary school formerly located at East 25th and F streets, which is now the site of a 3-acre city park.

Though plans for Arnada Commons encompass the entire East 16th- to East 17th-street block, the developers do not own one of the block's corner lots on the southeast quadrant of East 17th and E streets.

That site is owned by attorneys David Gregerson and Dean Langsdorf, of the law firm Gregerson & Langsdorf PS, who practice from an office building at 415 E. 17th St.

Gregerson said the developers have made offers to purchase the lot.

"We've considered that as an option, but we have not decided on anything concrete," he said.

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