The Centerpiece of RCG Group’s Master Plan Development Strategy…a Creative Affordable Housing Initiative

One of the most significant and challenging issues facing not only the City of Richmond, but the entire Lower Mainland, is that of affordable housing.

Through Harvey Goodwyn’s pioneering vision and contribution to Richmond’s growth starting back in the mid 60’s, today RCG Group stewards an extensive portfolio of properties located within the Lansdowne Village and the Capstan Village precincts of the City Centre, providing a broad range in land use and building types.

RCG Group has created a master plan development strategy for our ten Lansdowne Village properties in the City Centre of Richmond.

The City Centre Area Plan (CCAP) provides for significant land use changes in the City Centre; changes which affect our Lansdowne Village portfolio yet offers considerable opportunities for future coordinated redevelopment that can benefit both the City of Richmond and RCG Group.

In the CCAP, the City of Richmond proposes a management framework for development that, among other things:

  • embodies the concept of healthy urban living;
  • provides opportunities for people to live, work, play, and learn in a sustainable, high-amenity environment;
  • reduces sprawl and pressure on Richmond’s suburban neighbourhoods, industrial areas, and farmland by directing significant growth away from those areas and towards the City Centre; and
  • benefits all of Richmond by developing a series of compact and engaging, higher-density, urban villages supportive of a broad range of high-quality amenities, including affordable housing.

The City has undergone tremendous growth. As a company with deep roots in Richmond community, RCG Group is committed to supporting the City over the long term by making significant contributions to help achieve its vision of making the Richmond “the most appealing, livable and well-managed community in Canada.”

As a long-standing corporate citizen of Richmond, we share the City’s vision to successfully plan and develop the City Centre neighbourhoods to meet its long-term goals.

Over a decade ago, Richmond City Council approved the “Richmond Affordable Housing Strategy”, the central focus of which is to ensure Richmond is successful in providing a range of housing options for households of different ages, family types and incomes. The strategy recognizes that substantial support and cooperation is needed from other levels of government, non-profit organizations, Richmond property owners, and the development community to address the affordable housing issue.

Currently, the City offers a density bonus to developers at the time of rezoning for multi-family use developments with more than 80 condo units in exchange for 5% of total RESIDENTIAL floor areas built as low-end market rental (“LEMR”) units (aka, affordable units) secured in perpetuity by a Housing Agreement registered on title.

As at March 2017, 10 years after adoption by Council of the Affordable Housing Strategy, the City has secured 423 LEMR units, of which only 120 have been built and occupied.

Such LEMR units have experienced management challenges and not all of the units have been rented to the targeted/intended households.

Future market housing fluctuations could very well adversely affect the delivery of such LEMR units and result in uncertainty as to how many and when the units would be built and delivered for occupancy.

Many of our ten Lansdowne Village properties are encumbered by medium to long-term commercial leases and thus, likely will not be available for residential redevelopment for at least 10 to 25 years. This delay in redevelopment means no affordable housing units.

In partnership with the City, we seek to develop a strategic plan to provide certainty and a roadmap for affordable housing today, and the certainty around the delivery of affordable housing means that the City has the flexibility, well beyond the current development obligations, to ensure the City’s continued adaptation to the economic growth as anticipated in the City’s CCAP.

As the centerpiece of our master plan development strategy, we are uniquely positioned to undertake a creative initiative to support the City of Richmond in addressing the urgent need for affordable housing through the IMMEDIATE construction and delivery of a 150,000-square foot residential building, providing more than 100% of the affordable housing units that ALL TEN OF OUR PROPERTIES WOULD BE OBLIGATED TO CONTRIBUTE IF AVAILABLE AND DEVELOPED TODAY.

This means construction and delivery TODAY of a 210-unit residential rental building, including 24 subsidized rental units, 98 affordable housing units as well as 88 market rental units (Phase 1) located at one of our Lansdowne Village City Centre properties that we refer to as SITE 3. Our unique proposal provides the City with certainty around the delivery of much needed affordable housing – available for occupation today.

Adjacent to the 210-unit residential rental building on Site 3, RCG plans to construct, as part of Phase 1, a 168-unit Seniors Retirement Living Community facility on SITE 4.

The state-of-the-art senior’s facility includes a 26-unit dedicated memory care floor to help address critical issues of community support for advanced Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.

Business remains a key driver and contributor to growth in the City Richmond, and it’s true that RCG Group needs to continue to run and operate successfully as a business, which in turn allows us to continue making significant contributions to the community of Richmond. Keeping that focus allows us to take a unique approach. RCG Group proposes, that in exchange for the immediate delivery with certainty of over 210 rental units, that all 10 of our Lansdowne Village properties are rezoned now and be approved for additional density that is in excess of the current CCAP designation of 2.0 FAR to an overall average of 2.98 FAR.

RCG’s unique model of affordable housing will help the City address the additional issue and need for seniors and market rental accommodation in the City Centre as well.

RCG has a long history of operating in the City of Richmond – we are committed to giving back to the community in which we operate, and want this innovative affordable housing initiative to be part of our legacy to the City of Richmond, and in turn, contributing to Richmond’s legacy to urban development best practices, and diversifying its downtown core.