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Rezoning bid presented for Army & Navy site in Vancouver

Revised rezoning application calls for 11-storey office tower and a 19-floor residential tower with 900 mostly non-market rental units on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
Army & Navy owner Jacqui Cohen envisions “a catalyst for positive change in the Downtown Eastside.” | Chung Chow, BIV

Developer Bosa Properties, on behalf of the Cohen family, has presented a rezoning application for the shuttered Army & Navy store in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The application calls for commercial and rental housing towers at 8 to 36 Cordova Street and 15 to 27 West Hastings following rezoning from HA-2 (Gastown Heritage designation) and DD (Downtown Development)  respectively, into a single CD-zone, (which allows flexible comprehensive development) ,according to the application.

The proposed rezoning is intended to allow for the development of an 11-storey office building on Cordova Street with 264,000 square feet of office space and three levels of below-grade parking, and the Samuel residential tower, a 19-storey secure rental housing project on West Hastings Street with social housing, owned and operated by the BC Indigenous Housing Society. The two towers would be linked by new retail plazas.

The development would be known as the Cohen Block, in recognition of the Cohen family, which operated the Army & Navy department store for more than a century.

The Army & Navy flagship store, which was opened in 1919 by Sam Cohen, was closed in March of 2020 during the pandemic.

Jacqui Cohen is the current owner of the Army & Navy site. She has developed an impressive team to move the proposed redevelopment forward. Bosa Properties is one of the largest developers in the province and Cohen has also recruited Michael Green Architecture, known for its use of mass timber, as the lead architect on the proposed development.

The third team member, the BC Indigenous Housing Society, is a non-profit entity founded in 1984,which manages a portfolio of 19 buildings and 900 rental housing units, with funding from various levels of government. Cohen’s plan calls for 189 units of below-market rentals, 62 units of subsidized rental housing, 14 units of  “deep subsidy” rentals and 227 market rental units.

“By redeveloping the site, we hope to be a catalyst for positive change in the Downtown Eastside and Gastown – bringing renewal to the area, embracing sustainable best practices, and investing in the preservation of heritage buildings that are in much need of repair,” Jacqui Cohen said in a statement included in the latest application.

Cohen originally submitted a rezoning application for the Army & Navy site in 2021, but it was rejected by Vancouver staff at the time. The revised application includes input from city staff and local residents.