What is The Kettle Boffo Project?
At the northwest corner of Venables and Commercial Drive is a remarkable place called The Kettle Society. For almost 40 years, our non-profit group has offered housing, employment, advocacy and mental health services to people normally overlooked in our society. The elderly, the homeless, those with drug and alcohol issues, and those people coping with mental health challenges — they’re in need of help.
That’s why it’s so important for The Kettle Society to stay working in this neighbourhood — where the need is so great — and to do so in a larger, improved space that better meets our clients’ needs. The Kettle Boffo Project is a proposal that seeks to combine The Kettle’s aging facility with property on either side of us, owned by the East Vancouver family-run company Boffo Properties. Boffo Properties sees the value of The Kettle’s services and wants to play a positive role in the neighbourhood by working with us. In addition, we have approached the City of Vancouver about their parking lot north of our site so that, together, we could create a new, 12-storey building.
This new building would create:
- A progressive, beautifully designed building by Olson Kundig Architects and GBL Architects, two firms known for global and local work that is artistic and masterfully designed
- A new, much larger, self-contained space for The Kettle to operate, including a drop-in centre (main floor), plus administration and programming space (2nd floor)
- Up to 30 units of supportive housing. These are homes where clients of The Kettle Society can live and be helped by trained Kettle staff to stay well, feel safe, and return to being a contributing member of the community
- Approximately 200 homes that would be sold to people who love to live in or remain in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood. Our proposed market housing will offer a range of units – from one to three bedrooms – that will offer current GW residents the opportunity to move from being renters to owners, others to downsize while staying in the neighbourhood, and enable new families to become part of the community
- About 18,000 square feet of retail. Although the exact tenants of this retail space can’t be known at this stage, the project team envisions a few shops, a cafe and/or perhaps a small restaurant on this ground-floor space
Let’s talk about height
We know that Grandview-Woodland residents are passionate about maintaining the small-scale, village-feel that makes this such a wonderful place to live and visit. We get that. Many people in the community feel that any building over a certain height doesn’t belong on The Drive. We get that too. So let’s clarify some basic information about the height and location of our building because they’ve become important parts of the discussion.
Based on our conversations with the City to date, the proposed building would be 12-storeys high. For a rough visual reference, the proposed height of this building is approximately the same height as the existing building to the northeast of our site, called The Adanac Towers, which was built in 1979. From Commercial Diversion North, we count Adanac Towers as 13 storeys with a 15-20-foot mechanical room on top.
Will this project fit the unique character of this neighbourhood?
We think this building will fit well within the neighbourhood. This particular site is north of the core residential / retail section of The Drive. The curve, sloped site in our proposal is surrounded by mostly industrial buildings in a very transitional section of the neighbourhood that, many feel, is in need of updating.
We have carefully selected a team of world-class architects for this proposal. We believe that this team could transform this site into an architectural highlight in the neighbourhood.
Some of the design intentions of the proposed building include:
Create a project that serves a diverse population with a range of housing and apartment units, including the Kettle, supportive housing and market housing
Create ways to link together the Commercial and Venables neighbourhoods and create a more activated pedestrian experience
Design the site to create multiple ways people can walk through and experience it, including creating a green, internal courtyard for socializing
Design and position the building to best fit into the neighbourhood, factoring in the surrounding buildings, topography and views
Feature an extraordinarily high level of architectural excellence and style that makes this corner a place to be proud of
In addition, the Commercial Drive Business Society (CDBS) has indicated that it supports responsible density in key spots. Its vision of The Drive indicates no more than 6 storeys along the Drive, with certain transportation nodes receiving more density, like the location we’re in at Commercial and Venables. We also think this building belongs in the neighbourhood because it means The Kettle Society gets to stay here, in our current home.
Our non-profit group can continue providing the same life-changing services around housing, mental heath and community support to people who need them most: People who need help finding meaningful part-time employment. People who are lonely, abused, struggling with addiction and in need of hot tea or a friendly ear. People who would be homeless or in a costly hospital bed if it weren’t for the services of The Kettle’s teams. People who have nowhere else to go for support and friendship.
We think this neighbourhood and the people living in it are progressive and caring. That’s why such a transformational organization belongs right here, where our current home is, in Grandview-Woodland.
Who is leading this proposal?
The Kettle was approached by Boffo Properties, a family-run, East Vancouver developer who owns property on either side of The Kettle’s facility. Together, we discussed a shared vision for a new facility. With Boffo Properties on board, together we approached the City of Vancouver to purchase its parking lot directly north of our site. Our vision is to co-develop the assembled site at the northwest corner of Venables and Commercial into something that better serves the community.
The proposed redevelopment would allow The Kettle to almost double the size of our facility and increase / improve the services we offer here. It would also provide new market housing that would give people who want to move here, or stay here, a range of housing options that are more affordable and accessible than trying to purchase a single- family home in this neighbourhood.
This isn’t a charity project. This is an everyone project.
Vancouver is in the midst of a housing and mental health crisis. The Kettle Society and Boffo Properties support a housing policy that nurtures a more compassionate, diverse, and inclusive community where neighbours care for and about each other. Join us in our ongoing advocacy.
If you have comments and questions about the City of Vancouver’s housing plans, and the requirements for a project like the Kettle Boffo proposal, we encourage you to contact Vancouver’s Mayor and Council.