Heights District Plan

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Project Overview

Heights District Vision

Map of the Heights District study area showing the Tower Mall Redevelopment Area and existing community assets. The District area is 205 acres bounded generally by MacArthur Boulevard, Mill Plain Boulevard, and Andresen Road.

Map of the Heights District study area showing the Tower Mall Redevelopment Area and existing community assets. Click this image for a larger version.


The Heights District Plan establishes a long-term vision for the future of the 205-acre Heights District, as well as a redevelopment plan and specific development program for the 63-acre Tower Mall Redevelopment Area. The Plan envisions a vibrant, healthy, connected neighborhood center and provides a framework to:

  • Leverage short- and long-term sustainable economic development initiatives
  • Integrate income-based and market rate housing
  • Catalyze private investment
  • Add accessible public open spaces
  • Utilize innovative urban design and sustainable development strategies
  • Provide for the creative and functional integration of public transit
  • Optimize multimodal connections within the District and surrounding areas
  • Establish new 20-minute neighborhoods where people can walk, bike, roll and use transit to meet their daily needs and access nearby services and amenities

On August 17, 2020, the Vancouver City Council adopted the Heights District Plan. This marked the culmination of more than two and a half years of public engagement and participation in the planning process, and resulted in a community vision for how the Heights District will develop over the next twenty years. The project team engaged in a robust public outreach and engagement process that utilized a variety of methods designed to engage a diverse group of stakeholders and the broader community, including communities that are typically under-represented in planning processes.

Plan Policy Direction

The Plan establishes six categories of policies providing direction for achieving the vision for the District. These categories are Land Use and Zoning; Equity, Jobs, and Housing; Economic Vitality; Access and Circulation; Public Realm and Open Space; and Environmental Sustainability. Below are specific policies within each category.

Intent: Enrich the public and private life of residents, visitors, and employees by providing a mix of compatible land uses. Urban design standards will ensure high-quality built environments and architectural details of individual buildings and public spaces.

PolicyPolicy Description
L-1Establish a new HX (Heights District) mixed-use zone classification that promotes a flexible mix of residential, retail, and employment land uses and a walkable land use pattern, allowing living and working within walking distance of each other.
L-2Ensure a mix of building typologies are applied to each land use throughout The District.
L-3Encourage a pedestrian-scale environment and walkability through smaller blocks and narrow street rights-of-way.
L-4Ensure public realm uses are prioritized, such as civic parks and neighborhood parks.
L-5Program dedicated, flexible venue space for arts and cultural events.
L-6Incentivize shared parking strategies that right-size the total number of stalls in The District.
L-7Ensure the availability of live/work space, studio space, and other facilities to support local artists.
L-8Consider adding a neighborhood branch library or other civic uses as cultural amenities.
L-9Require transportation demand management for individual developments through zoning in order to promote a range of transportation options, reduce the need for parking through parking efficiency practices, and provide for adequate availability of bike parking, car share and other mobility options.
L-10Ensure The District is accessible for people of all abilities by requiring universal design and other accessibility criteria for streets, sidewalks, parks and commercial areas.
L-11Encourage an attractive and welcoming gateway feature at the intersection of Mill Plain and MacArthur, with thoughtful building design and placemaking elements such as public art.
L-12Apply the new HX (Heights District) mixed-use zone classification to properties in the District that are not rezoned as part of original Plan implementation, if a rezone is requested in the future. Apply the District Gateway sub-district requirements (development standards) and District Gateway character area (design guidelines) to these properties, in order to facilitate compatibility with existing adjacent single-family development.
L-13Implement a tiered parking strategy that utilizes the sub-districts framework and requires higher minimum parking ratios for areas that directly abut existing single family development, and allows for reduced minimum parking ratios in areas that do not abut single family development when combined with enhanced transportation demand management strategies.
L-14Pursue strategies for ensuring an adequate supply of event overflow parking, including agreements with the school district for use of their surface parking lots for events when not utilized for school-related activities.

Intent: The Heights District will be a model of equitable redevelopment, providing housing opportunities for a diverse population of residents from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, and reflecting the existing socioeconomic mix of adjacent neighborhoods.

PolicyPolicy Description
D-1Ensure residential units of all levels of affordability are constructed to a high standard of quality.
D-2Create opportunities for homeownership at a range of prices.
D-3Increase the variety of housing to include a mix of unit types from attached single-family houses to multifamily apartments and condos, with a focus on providing options appropriate for residents at all stages of life, including young professionals, working families, seniors, and people with disabilities.
D-4Create diversity in housing types, as well as a mix of 2- and 3-bedroom units that are affordable for families, seniors and others on fixed or limited incomes.
D-5Ensure affordable housing is sited and integrated appropriately with market rate housing.
D-6Provide mixed-income housing affordable to people at a variety of income levels.
D-7Ensure a range of employment opportunities suitable for a variety of educational and job training backgrounds.
D-8Ensure opportunities for seniors to age in place in The District.
D-9Ensure continuity of access to social and religious services as the area transitions.
D-10Expand the reach of the community center and social services at Skyline Crest by connecting to The District both physically and programmatically.
D-11Include social and environmental responsibility criteria for selecting developers for City-owned land.
D-12Expand the number of living wage jobs in The District.

Intent: The Heights District Plan will establish a framework for long-term economic and community vitality that attracts private investment and ensures appropriate public benefits.

PolicyPolicy Description

E-1

Program locally owned and operated restaurants, food markets, and services that serve a range of preferences and affordability levels.

E-2

Work with development partners to promote healthy food options within The District

E-3

Incentivize opportunities for education and innovation to occur within The Heights District.

E-4

Maintain a small business culture by retaining existing locally owned businesses and attracting new local businesses, including minority- and women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises.

E-5

Ensure that branding and signage of larger businesses does not override the identity of The District.

E-6

Ensure that all economic strategies are feasible and attract private investment as intended.

E-7

Ensure that all economic strategies are equitable and deliver appropriate public benefit

E-8

Employ a phased development approach, with incremental growth leading successful implementation of the long-term vision.

E-9

Avoid building the best site first, as it is more likely to realize its full potential after economic momentum has accrued.

E-10

Leverage city landownership to make strategic investments and build economic momentum.

E-11

Work to attract cafes, art galleries, incubator and maker spaces to activate the District. Consider interim uses like pop-up retail, food trucks, and temporary installations to provide short-term activation and energy.

E-12

Consider interim uses for existing buildings such as creative industries, maker spaces, artist studios, and small businesses.

E-13

Negotiate with property owners to seek tenants complementary to The Heights District vision, goals, and objectives.

E-14

Promote programs that build community and allow opportunities to share resources, such as tool libraries.

Intent: To strengthen multimodal connections and improve accessibility throughout The District and within the 20-minute walkshed by connecting schools, homes, and jobs through a walkable, pedestrian-friendly, and bikeable street network and urban trail system.

PolicyPolicy Description

C-1

Design all streets to be “complete streets”, allowing comfortable and safe mobility for all modes of transportation, and provide universal access for all ages and abilities. Ensure compatibility with City of Vancouver Complete Streets Ordinance.

C-2

Improve the safety of crosswalks along major arterials and add new crosswalks at key points, such as near bus stops and entrances to the cemetery and schools, enhancing connectivity within the 20-minute walkshed. Provide protected pedestrian crossings where needed.

C-3

Foster the regional bike path network by creating protected bike lanes for both directions along all major roads.

C-4

Ensure new transit stations have features for safety, accessibility, and comfort, such as lighting, shelter, art, informational displays, accessible ticketing and wayfinding, and ample space for transit riders. Ensure new transit stations are connected to key destinations through safe, accessible, and comfortable facilities. The proposed new BRT station at Devine Road in the heart of the Tower Mall Redevelopment Area should provide an enhanced station area with additional facilities and amenities, including bike parking and additional wayfinding in The District.

C-5

Create a fine-grained network of accessible sidewalks, pathways and bike facilities that include lighting and shelter to allow pedestrians, cyclists and other users comfortable and direct access to and within the District. Capitalize on existing networks such as the internal cemetery streets and connections between Skyline Crest and nearby schools.

C-6

Establish connections and reduce barriers to surrounding neighborhoods.

C-7

Utilize service alleyways as efficiently as possible to consolidate negative impacts to the public realm such as blank walls and building services.

C-8

Provide landscaped pedestrian walkways and safe crosswalks to BRT stations, and where feasible provide weather protection.

C-9

Continue to allow for pedestrian access into Park Hill Cemetery. Provide for a visual delineation using vegetation and fencing to separate new residential uses from the cemetery grounds. Continue to maintain a non-gated roadway access to the cemetery grounds.

C-10

Limit access to new development from neighborhood streets wherever possible, thus maintaining the character and safety of existing neighborhoods.

C-11

Monitor neighborhood streets for increasing traffic volumes and speeds as The District redevelops, and address any emerging traffic safety challenges through traffic calming and other measures. Develop an annual plan for measuring impacts and establish thresholds that trigger improvements.

C-12

Enhance existing and develop new walking routes that allow children in nearby neighborhoods to safely walk to and through The District to access school sites.

C-13

Develop a network of greenways through adjacent neighborhoods, providing families safe walking and biking access to neighborhood parks and adding an additional loop that connects adjacent neighborhoods to each other.

C-14

Identify opportunities for adding additional on-street parking along MacArthur Blvd and other arterials where possible to ensure adequate parking for events and visitors

Intent: Provide a variety of community public spaces to enrich the quality of life for nearby residents and visitors. Improve connections to the diverse set of existing public parks and natural areas just outside the District.

PolicyPolicy Description

O-1

Create flexible gathering spaces that range in scale and purpose in order to accommodate community activities and events, and promote social interaction and community involvement.

O-2

Provide a variety of active open spaces that provide recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities, including recreation areas and community gardens.

O-3

Ensure that public spaces, streets, and alleyways are well-maintained. Develop an ongoing operations and maintenance plan for all open space areas.

O-4

Maintain the Park Hill Cemetery road network as an open public pathway used for light recreation such as bicycling and dog walking. Explore opportunities to connect to adjacent properties, establishing the Cemetery as the green heart of The District while respecting its primary function as a resting place and burial ground.

O-5

Develop a cohesive wayfinding strategy that adds richness to the public realm, reflects the neighborhood character, and is accessible and understandable for a diverse population.

O-6

Create woonerfs (pedestrian focused shared streets) and activated alleyways where appropriate.

O-7

Ensure streets function as both mobility infrastructure and as places through activation, pedestrian-scale design, and prioritization of nonmotorized mobility.

O-8

Develop an ongoing programming plan for public open spaces in The District. Identify resources for ongoing City programming by special events staff, and work with local organizations to activate open space with varied and enriching programming.

O-9

Work with local organizations to design and program a public open space to be used as a weekly farmers market.

O-10

Interpret and incorporate the neighborhood’s rich history as a placemaking strategy.

O-11

Promote intercultural understanding and represent the diversity of The District through open space programming such as festivals and performances.

O-12

Incorporate public art such as murals, sculptures, and other mixed media artwork as a way to reflect neighborhood history and culture.

O-13

Incorporate Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles into the design of all new public open spaces.

Intent: The Heights District will strive to achieve high levels of social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

PolicyPolicy Description

S-1

Meet the City of Vancouver’s Tree Canopy Achievement Program (TreeCAP) Gold Leaf standard to increase urban tree canopy coverage.

S-2

S-2 Design roads, roofs, and parking lots to minimize heat island effects. S-3 S-4 S-5 S-6 S-7 S-8 S-9 S-10 S-11 Provide a variety of active open spaces that provide recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities, including recreation areas and community gardens.

S-3

Pursue Fitwel Community certification as a nationally certified project.

S-4

Strive to exceed relevant sustainability benchmarks for new buildings and infrastructure, similar to what is required for LEED certification standards. All publicly owned buildings shall meet or exceed LEED Gold Certification.

S-5

Create landscapes that demonstrate and embody sustainability, such as rain gardens and drought resistant plant palettes that contribute positively to the ecosystem.

S-6

Explore opportunities for district-level solutions to waste management and energy production.

S-7

Explore opportunities for local rainwater collection and use pervious paving materials where feasible.

S-8

Explore opportunities to reduce supply chains through local food production and create opportunities to buy food from local distributors at farmers markets, grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants.

S-9

Find ways to ecologically connect Park Hill Cemetery to Blandford Canyon and the ravines that lead to Burnt Bridge Creek, restoring the natural network across the plateau.

S-10

Create pollinator pathways and other natural features that connect the Blandford Canyon, Burnt Bridge Creek, and Park Hill Cemetery ecosystems.

S-11

Create robust, innovative, and visually appealing storm water management infrastructure as part of a site wide strategy to fully treat and manage the water quality impacts of runoff. The infrastructure should work in harmony with the local ecological system.

Plan Implementation

The project is now in the first phase of Plan implementation, which includes the following activities:

  • Creation of a new Heights-specific mixed-use (HX) zoning district and associated design guidelines
  • Updates to street standard details
  • Adoption of a Planned Action for the District
  • Fitwel community certification for the Tower Mall Redevelopment Area
  • Demolition of Tower Mall building

Public Process

The new zoning code, associated design guidelines and planned action for the Heights District require their own Planning Commission and City Council adoption process, which includes opportunities for public input and engagement. Community members will be able to provide public comment through Planning Commission and City Council workshops and hearings.

The project team will continue to work with all stakeholders that participated in the planning process, including Neighborhood Associations and coalitions, people who served on the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the planning process, businesses, property owners, school groups, service providers and agency partners (C-TRAN, Vancouver Public Schools). There will also be targeted outreach and engagement with community-based organizations, renters, people with disabilities and lower income community members to ensure that engagement on this project continues to be equitable and includes a diverse set of community voices.

If you would like to receive updates about the first stage of Heights District plan implementation and opportunities for public input, you can:

New Heights Mixed-Use (HX) Zoning District

Heights Mixed-Use (HX) is a proposed new zone classification specific to the Heights District that is intended to promote a flexible mix of residential, retail, and employment land uses and a walkable land use pattern, allowing for living and working within walking distance of each other. The HX zone will include development standards intended to provide a framework to realize the community's vision and policy direction for the District, and implement the sub-district approach in order to address the unique character and needs of each area. The new zoning district will also have accompanying discretionary design guidelines that will be applied as part of the project review and approval process to complement the development standards in guiding high-quality, sustainable development in the District.

Sub-District Approach

Map of the character zones/sub-districts established for the Heights District showing where they are applied. The character zones established for the District include the Activity Center, Residential Neighborhood, Innovation Hub, and District Gateways.

Map of the character zones/sub-districts established for the Heights District. Click this image for a larger version.


The District’s organizational structure is defined by a series of character zones, or sub-districts, that provide a unique set of design pre-requisites. Each character zone is expressed differently to address unique character attributes, massing, scale and uses, as well as how they relate to the context of adjacent uses. The following character zones have been established for The District:

  • District Gateways serve as entries to the District and include elements that define it. Buildings help frame the intersections, public art and signage provide wayfinding, and the scale and context of adjacent uses are acknowledged and respected.
  • The Activity Center is the “heart” of the District with the most diversity of uses, highest density of buildings, highest quality of construction materials, and amenities.
  • The Residential Neighborhood includes lower-scale townhomes, family housing, quiet, tree-lined streets, and parks, with views toward Park Hill Cemetery’s open spaces and informal walking paths.
  • The Innovation Hub incorporates eclectic uses, such as health-supportive services, office employment, and live/work uses, at a comfortable scale adjacent to the proposed MacArthur Boulevard greenbelt.

Proposed Development Standards

The project team has developed proposed HX zone development standards that reflect the vision articulated in the Heights District Plan and balance the needs of a variety of stakeholders. Over several months the proposed standards have been adjusted to reflect feedback from the Planning Commission and City Council, community members, property owners, and the development community in the following ways:

  • Step down to 40 ft for development abutting residentially zoned property
  • Step down 140 feet from Idaho Street
  • 2-story building height maximums fronting Idaho St. and fronting the portion of Devine closest to Idaho Street within the 140 ft step down distance
  • Only residential uses allowed fronting Idaho Street and the majority of Devine north of Mill Plain
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles incorporated throughout draft design guidelines document
  • Primarily residential ground floor uses along MacArthur, to allow for gradual transition from residential to commercial uses
  • Buffering requirements adjacent to residential zoning tied to building height increases
  • Increased building height maximums in the core of the redevelopment area, in the Activity Center and Residential Neighborhood sub-districts
  • Added minimum residential density requirement to ensure residential densities are adequate to support amenities and services desired by stakeholders
  • Not proposing to reduce building heights below existing zoning on most parcels. The exception is for development abutting existing residential per step down requirements
  • Building heights of up to 50 ft in Innovation Hub and in District Gateways where not abutting residentially zoned parcels; removed step down requirement
  • Updated parking standard for senior housing- maintain consistency with overall citywide average until specialty parking standards adjusted citywide in compliance with state law
  • Live/work added to permitted ground floor uses in several areas to allow flexibility
  • ADUs permitted to allow flexibility
  • Added artisan and specialty goods production to allowed uses, with size restrictions, to increase ground floor flexibility
  • Rooftop equipment, parapets/railings, rooftop solar equipment, etc. can exceed building height limitations but must be appropriately screened
  • Added flexibility to surface parking screening requirements
  • Reduced complexity and specificity of ground floor use regulations to provide greater flexibility in some areas and more carefully calibrate specific limitations in key areas where ground floor activation or predominantly residential uses are central to the vision
  • Marijuana retail a limited use per regulations in VMC 20.884

The proposed parking standards for the District are designed to ensure a right sized approach for the area. The standards are based on a multi-modal, complete streets model. The Redevelopment Area will be served by a new Mill Plain Bus Rapid Transit Line and enhanced bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. To maintain compatibility with existing single-family neighborhoods adjacent to the Redevelopment Area, the proposed standards describe a tiered approach to parking requirements in alignment with the sub-district framework and consistent with policy direction provided in the Plan. This will result in higher minimum parking ratios in areas near existing single-family homes, while reducing the parking ratios in the sub-districts where enhanced transportation options, ample on street parking, and shared parking opportunities are available.

The minimum number of parking spaces required for residential uses may be reduced per the table below if the City approves a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan for the proposed development. The TDM plan will generally consist of:

  • Narrative describing the characteristics of the proposed development and how it is served by the larger transportation system
  • Specific TDM measures to be employed to reduce transportation via single-occupancy vehicles and resulting on-site parking needs
  • A description of how TDM measures will be communicated to users
  • A description of how users will be required or encouraged to use TDM measures
  • A proposed process for monitoring individual and overall use of TDM measures and reporting their use to the City annually
TDM – Menu of tools projects must select from to access residential parking reductions

Parking cash-outs/decoupling cost of parking from rent

Must select at least 1

Free/discounted transit passes (reduced rate of 75% or more)

At least 5% of available parking spaces for priority shared/high occupancy vehicles

Must select at least 3

On-site car share program accounting for at least 5% of total parking spaces

Guaranteed ride home – Option to pay into and utilize City’s existing program

Shared micro-cargo/cargo bikes

Onsite provision of repair services for bicycles & other non-vehicular mobility options

Minimum off-street parking requirements for residential uses by character zone/sub-district.
Character ZoneProposed Minimum Off-Street Parking RequirementsProposed Parking Reductions with TDM
Activity Center1/1.75/1
Residential Neighborhood1/1.75/1
Innovation Hub1.25/11/1
District Gateway1.25/1
  • 1:1 for development not abutting residentially-zoned properties
  • No reductions for development abutting residentially-zoned properties

Map showing proposed minimum residential parking requirements, and proposed reductions with Transportation Demand Management (TDM), for the HX zone by sub-district. The sub-districts established for the District include the Activity Center, Residential Neighborhood, Innovation Hub, and District Gateways.
Map showing proposed minimum residential parking requirements, and proposed reductions with Transportation Demand Management (TDM), for the HX zone by sub-district. Click this image for a larger version.

For non-residential uses, minimum off-street parking requirements under HX zone regulations include:

HX ZoneLand Uses
HotelSenior LivingOfficeCommercial
Proposed Minimum Parking requirements.5/lodging unit1/ living unit1/1,000 sfNo minimum requirement for ground floor commercial uses (retail, restaurant, community facilities, etc.), utilize on-street system

Under the proposed standards, building height maximums are set by character zone/sub-district. Following urban design best practices, the proposed code standards will allow for varying building heights to ensure compatibility with the surrounding context, optimize viewsheds, discourage the canyon effect, and provide pedestrian-scale design at the street level. Where building heights are required to be stepped down, the following depth standards will be applied:

  • Building heights will be reduced to 3 stories/40 feet approximately 60 ft from residentially-zoned property
  • On the fire station parcel, building heights will be reduced to 2 stories/35 ft approximately 140 ft from Idaho Street
Character ZoneProposed Maximum Building Height
Activity Center85 ft
Residential Neighborhood85 ft
Innovation Hub50 ft
District Gateway
  • 50 ft for development not abutting residentially-zoned properties
  • 40 ft for development abutting residentially-zoned properties
  • 35 ft for development fronting Idaho St and a portion of Devine Street north of Mill Plain

Map showing proposed maximum building heights for the HX zone by sub-district. The sub-districts established for the District include the Activity Center, Residential Neighborhood, Innovation Hub, and District Gateways.
Map showing proposed maximum building heights for the HX zone by sub-district. Click this image for a larger version.

The new HX zone will also include minimum densities for residential development by sub-district to ensure the vision and target for residential units established through the Heights District Plan are met.

Minimum residential density by sub-district

Character Zone

Minimum Density

Activity Center

75 dwelling units per acre

Residential Neighborhood

45 dwelling units per acre

Innovation Hub

30 dwelling units per acre

District Gateway

30 dwelling units per acre

The City of Vancouver has set a goal to achieve 28% tree canopy coverage by 2030. The proposed HX zone regulations include enhanced landscaping which aligns with this effort. Enhanced landscaping looks like:

  • Planting large evergreen and deciduous trees planted 30 feet on center.
  • Identifying preferred tree and plant species for public spaces from the City forester approved District-wide palette.

Current development regulations and allowed uses within Community Commercial (CC) zoning designation do not support development that aligns with the vison and goals for the Heights District neighborhood. The table below shows permitted and prohibited uses for the new HX zone:

Permitted Uses

Prohibited Uses

· Housing

· Civic uses

· Day care facilities

· Eating/drinking establishments

· General retail

· Artisan and specialty good production

· General and medical office

· Temporary surface parking

·Limited recreational marijuana retail


· Non-accessory permanent surface parking

· Outdoor & bulk sales

· Motor vehicle sales/rental/service

· Self-storage

· Industrial uses

· Animal kennel/shelters

· Detention facilities

Ground Floor Uses

Map showing proposed ground floor uses.

The new HX zoning designation will ensure that future development in the Heights District aligns with the vision and project objectives in the Plan by refining and specifying allowable uses to:

  • Ensure activation of ground floor uses in the Activity Center which would narrow allowed uses for this sub-district and provide additional guidance on appropriate ground floor office uses.
  • Find the right mix of residential uses on the ground floor in the Innovation Hub, where a mix of housing, retail and office is envisioned

Minimum bicycle parking requirements in the new HX zone will be consistent with the City of Vancouver Bicycle Parking Guidelines, and are intended to support the vision for the Heights District as a multi-modal, walkable neighborhood center. The bicycle parking standards provide minimum requirements for both short- and long-term bike parking, and vary for different uses in the Heights.

Minimum bicycle parking requirements for different uses

Uses

Required Short-Term Bike Parking

Required Long-Term Bike Parking

Residential

.05 per dwelling unit for dwellings with 5 or more units

1 per dwelling unit for dwellings with 5 or more units

Commercial

1 per 5,000 square feet of floor area, 2 space minimum

1 per 15,000 sf of floor area, 2 minimum

Office

1 per 25,000 sf of floor area, 2 spaces minimum

1 per 5,000 sf of floor area, 2 minimum

Civic/Institutional Buildings

1 per 5,000 sf of floor area, 2 spaces minimum

1 per 15,000 sf of floor area, 2 minimum

Lodging

2 minimum

1 per 10 rooms

Parks

2 minimum for pocket parks and open spaces
4 minimum for neighborhood parks, community parks and community gardens

None

Other development standards included in the new HX zone include:

  • Massing and Scale: Façade breaks, build to line, massing breaks, etc.
  • Modulation/Façade Articulation: Ground floor transparency, minimum ground floor height
  • Entrances: Ground floor, recessed floor level, vehicle, townhome garage parking
  • Roof Forms: Lines, projections, screening, materials, decks
  • Secondary Architectural Elements: Visual interest, encroachment, weather protection, pedestrian oriented features and interest generating features, blank walls
  • Materials and Colors
  • Landscape Design: Heights-specific native and adaptive plant species list under development
  • Stormwater Management
  • Signage

Design Guidelines

Design guidelines are also being developed to help ensure high-quality and sustainable development in the Heights District over time in coordination with the HX zone development standards. These address all aspects of development that contribute to the vision for the District and Tower Mall Redevelopment Area, including public spaces, streets and streetscapes, and the way buildings look and function. The design guidelines are organized around key design topics with an intent statement, standards, and guidelines:

  • Standards are prescriptive requirements codified in the HX zone, and consistent with the new Heights-specific street standard details as applicable.
  • Guidelines are a flexible and discretionary tool administered in concert with city codes and development standards to ensure that individual projects meet the vision and design objectives for the District.

The contents of the design guidelines is broken into ten main sections that cover the following:

Public Infrastructure

  • Includes the principal street system, blocks and streets, the Loop and internal streets, streetscapes, traffic calming, sidewalks, parks and open spaces, landscape, and stormwater management.
  • Heights Native and Adaptive Plant Species List (currently under development).

Building Typologies

  • Intent is to provide a diverse range of building types that contribute to overall District character and enhance the experience of users.
  • Includes building variation and architectural diversity, transparency, design, etc.
  • Addresses different types of uses, including civic, institutional, religious; townhomes; mixed use residential; and mixed use commercial.

Architecture: Includes massing and scale (building height, step downs and transitions, build to line, etc.); modulation and façade articulation; entrances; roof forms; secondary architectural features (weather protection, blank walls, etc.); and service and loading areas.

Other Sections: Includes materials and colors; signage; public art; parking; lighting design; utilities and screening; and sustainable site and development design.

Planned Action

The Planned Action for the Heights District is another element of Plan implementation that is supported by the previously completed Planning Action Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) prepared as part of the planning process. The Planned Action is established by city ordinance and subject to the mitigation document, which provides specific mitigation measures to offset any impacts identified in the FEIS and conditions of approval for projects developed in the District.

The Planned Action Ordinance (PAO) provides for streamlined review and approval of projects that meet Planned Action criteria and thresholds established by the Heights District Plan, which does not include public notice and provides for limited appeal as long as the project is consistent with the Heights District Plan. Development thresholds and mitigation activities included in the PAO are as follows:

Development thresholds consistent with the Heights District Plan:

  • 1,800 residential units
  • 204,000 sf of commercial development (includes office and retail)
  • 36,000 square feet of institutional development

Mitigation activities consistent with those identified in the FEIS:

  • Adoption of the HX zone and design guidelines
  • Compliance with all existing regulations
  • Transportation compliance letter for all projects
  • Proportionate share funding for upgrades on existing arterial streets
  • Monitoring parking needs/impacts in District and adjacent neighborhoods

Next Steps

  • Planning Commission public hearing scheduled for June 8.
  • City Council first reading and public hearing to be scheduled.
  • Continued updates to this website as draft proposals are developed and refined.
  • More information added to the Be Heard page as draft standards are further developed and refined.
  • Ongoing engagement with stakeholders throughout first phase of Plan implementation and beyond.

Project Overview

Heights District Vision

Map of the Heights District study area showing the Tower Mall Redevelopment Area and existing community assets. The District area is 205 acres bounded generally by MacArthur Boulevard, Mill Plain Boulevard, and Andresen Road.

Map of the Heights District study area showing the Tower Mall Redevelopment Area and existing community assets. Click this image for a larger version.


The Heights District Plan establishes a long-term vision for the future of the 205-acre Heights District, as well as a redevelopment plan and specific development program for the 63-acre Tower Mall Redevelopment Area. The Plan envisions a vibrant, healthy, connected neighborhood center and provides a framework to:

  • Leverage short- and long-term sustainable economic development initiatives
  • Integrate income-based and market rate housing
  • Catalyze private investment
  • Add accessible public open spaces
  • Utilize innovative urban design and sustainable development strategies
  • Provide for the creative and functional integration of public transit
  • Optimize multimodal connections within the District and surrounding areas
  • Establish new 20-minute neighborhoods where people can walk, bike, roll and use transit to meet their daily needs and access nearby services and amenities

On August 17, 2020, the Vancouver City Council adopted the Heights District Plan. This marked the culmination of more than two and a half years of public engagement and participation in the planning process, and resulted in a community vision for how the Heights District will develop over the next twenty years. The project team engaged in a robust public outreach and engagement process that utilized a variety of methods designed to engage a diverse group of stakeholders and the broader community, including communities that are typically under-represented in planning processes.

Plan Policy Direction

The Plan establishes six categories of policies providing direction for achieving the vision for the District. These categories are Land Use and Zoning; Equity, Jobs, and Housing; Economic Vitality; Access and Circulation; Public Realm and Open Space; and Environmental Sustainability. Below are specific policies within each category.

Intent: Enrich the public and private life of residents, visitors, and employees by providing a mix of compatible land uses. Urban design standards will ensure high-quality built environments and architectural details of individual buildings and public spaces.

PolicyPolicy Description
L-1Establish a new HX (Heights District) mixed-use zone classification that promotes a flexible mix of residential, retail, and employment land uses and a walkable land use pattern, allowing living and working within walking distance of each other.
L-2Ensure a mix of building typologies are applied to each land use throughout The District.
L-3Encourage a pedestrian-scale environment and walkability through smaller blocks and narrow street rights-of-way.
L-4Ensure public realm uses are prioritized, such as civic parks and neighborhood parks.
L-5Program dedicated, flexible venue space for arts and cultural events.
L-6Incentivize shared parking strategies that right-size the total number of stalls in The District.
L-7Ensure the availability of live/work space, studio space, and other facilities to support local artists.
L-8Consider adding a neighborhood branch library or other civic uses as cultural amenities.
L-9Require transportation demand management for individual developments through zoning in order to promote a range of transportation options, reduce the need for parking through parking efficiency practices, and provide for adequate availability of bike parking, car share and other mobility options.
L-10Ensure The District is accessible for people of all abilities by requiring universal design and other accessibility criteria for streets, sidewalks, parks and commercial areas.
L-11Encourage an attractive and welcoming gateway feature at the intersection of Mill Plain and MacArthur, with thoughtful building design and placemaking elements such as public art.
L-12Apply the new HX (Heights District) mixed-use zone classification to properties in the District that are not rezoned as part of original Plan implementation, if a rezone is requested in the future. Apply the District Gateway sub-district requirements (development standards) and District Gateway character area (design guidelines) to these properties, in order to facilitate compatibility with existing adjacent single-family development.
L-13Implement a tiered parking strategy that utilizes the sub-districts framework and requires higher minimum parking ratios for areas that directly abut existing single family development, and allows for reduced minimum parking ratios in areas that do not abut single family development when combined with enhanced transportation demand management strategies.
L-14Pursue strategies for ensuring an adequate supply of event overflow parking, including agreements with the school district for use of their surface parking lots for events when not utilized for school-related activities.

Intent: The Heights District will be a model of equitable redevelopment, providing housing opportunities for a diverse population of residents from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, and reflecting the existing socioeconomic mix of adjacent neighborhoods.

PolicyPolicy Description
D-1Ensure residential units of all levels of affordability are constructed to a high standard of quality.
D-2Create opportunities for homeownership at a range of prices.
D-3Increase the variety of housing to include a mix of unit types from attached single-family houses to multifamily apartments and condos, with a focus on providing options appropriate for residents at all stages of life, including young professionals, working families, seniors, and people with disabilities.
D-4Create diversity in housing types, as well as a mix of 2- and 3-bedroom units that are affordable for families, seniors and others on fixed or limited incomes.
D-5Ensure affordable housing is sited and integrated appropriately with market rate housing.
D-6Provide mixed-income housing affordable to people at a variety of income levels.
D-7Ensure a range of employment opportunities suitable for a variety of educational and job training backgrounds.
D-8Ensure opportunities for seniors to age in place in The District.
D-9Ensure continuity of access to social and religious services as the area transitions.
D-10Expand the reach of the community center and social services at Skyline Crest by connecting to The District both physically and programmatically.
D-11Include social and environmental responsibility criteria for selecting developers for City-owned land.
D-12Expand the number of living wage jobs in The District.

Intent: The Heights District Plan will establish a framework for long-term economic and community vitality that attracts private investment and ensures appropriate public benefits.

PolicyPolicy Description

E-1

Program locally owned and operated restaurants, food markets, and services that serve a range of preferences and affordability levels.

E-2

Work with development partners to promote healthy food options within The District

E-3

Incentivize opportunities for education and innovation to occur within The Heights District.

E-4

Maintain a small business culture by retaining existing locally owned businesses and attracting new local businesses, including minority- and women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises.

E-5

Ensure that branding and signage of larger businesses does not override the identity of The District.

E-6

Ensure that all economic strategies are feasible and attract private investment as intended.

E-7

Ensure that all economic strategies are equitable and deliver appropriate public benefit

E-8

Employ a phased development approach, with incremental growth leading successful implementation of the long-term vision.

E-9

Avoid building the best site first, as it is more likely to realize its full potential after economic momentum has accrued.

E-10

Leverage city landownership to make strategic investments and build economic momentum.

E-11

Work to attract cafes, art galleries, incubator and maker spaces to activate the District. Consider interim uses like pop-up retail, food trucks, and temporary installations to provide short-term activation and energy.

E-12

Consider interim uses for existing buildings such as creative industries, maker spaces, artist studios, and small businesses.

E-13

Negotiate with property owners to seek tenants complementary to The Heights District vision, goals, and objectives.

E-14

Promote programs that build community and allow opportunities to share resources, such as tool libraries.

Intent: To strengthen multimodal connections and improve accessibility throughout The District and within the 20-minute walkshed by connecting schools, homes, and jobs through a walkable, pedestrian-friendly, and bikeable street network and urban trail system.

PolicyPolicy Description

C-1

Design all streets to be “complete streets”, allowing comfortable and safe mobility for all modes of transportation, and provide universal access for all ages and abilities. Ensure compatibility with City of Vancouver Complete Streets Ordinance.

C-2

Improve the safety of crosswalks along major arterials and add new crosswalks at key points, such as near bus stops and entrances to the cemetery and schools, enhancing connectivity within the 20-minute walkshed. Provide protected pedestrian crossings where needed.

C-3

Foster the regional bike path network by creating protected bike lanes for both directions along all major roads.

C-4

Ensure new transit stations have features for safety, accessibility, and comfort, such as lighting, shelter, art, informational displays, accessible ticketing and wayfinding, and ample space for transit riders. Ensure new transit stations are connected to key destinations through safe, accessible, and comfortable facilities. The proposed new BRT station at Devine Road in the heart of the Tower Mall Redevelopment Area should provide an enhanced station area with additional facilities and amenities, including bike parking and additional wayfinding in The District.

C-5

Create a fine-grained network of accessible sidewalks, pathways and bike facilities that include lighting and shelter to allow pedestrians, cyclists and other users comfortable and direct access to and within the District. Capitalize on existing networks such as the internal cemetery streets and connections between Skyline Crest and nearby schools.

C-6

Establish connections and reduce barriers to surrounding neighborhoods.

C-7

Utilize service alleyways as efficiently as possible to consolidate negative impacts to the public realm such as blank walls and building services.

C-8

Provide landscaped pedestrian walkways and safe crosswalks to BRT stations, and where feasible provide weather protection.

C-9

Continue to allow for pedestrian access into Park Hill Cemetery. Provide for a visual delineation using vegetation and fencing to separate new residential uses from the cemetery grounds. Continue to maintain a non-gated roadway access to the cemetery grounds.

C-10

Limit access to new development from neighborhood streets wherever possible, thus maintaining the character and safety of existing neighborhoods.

C-11

Monitor neighborhood streets for increasing traffic volumes and speeds as The District redevelops, and address any emerging traffic safety challenges through traffic calming and other measures. Develop an annual plan for measuring impacts and establish thresholds that trigger improvements.

C-12

Enhance existing and develop new walking routes that allow children in nearby neighborhoods to safely walk to and through The District to access school sites.

C-13

Develop a network of greenways through adjacent neighborhoods, providing families safe walking and biking access to neighborhood parks and adding an additional loop that connects adjacent neighborhoods to each other.

C-14

Identify opportunities for adding additional on-street parking along MacArthur Blvd and other arterials where possible to ensure adequate parking for events and visitors

Intent: Provide a variety of community public spaces to enrich the quality of life for nearby residents and visitors. Improve connections to the diverse set of existing public parks and natural areas just outside the District.

PolicyPolicy Description

O-1

Create flexible gathering spaces that range in scale and purpose in order to accommodate community activities and events, and promote social interaction and community involvement.

O-2

Provide a variety of active open spaces that provide recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities, including recreation areas and community gardens.

O-3

Ensure that public spaces, streets, and alleyways are well-maintained. Develop an ongoing operations and maintenance plan for all open space areas.

O-4

Maintain the Park Hill Cemetery road network as an open public pathway used for light recreation such as bicycling and dog walking. Explore opportunities to connect to adjacent properties, establishing the Cemetery as the green heart of The District while respecting its primary function as a resting place and burial ground.

O-5

Develop a cohesive wayfinding strategy that adds richness to the public realm, reflects the neighborhood character, and is accessible and understandable for a diverse population.

O-6

Create woonerfs (pedestrian focused shared streets) and activated alleyways where appropriate.

O-7

Ensure streets function as both mobility infrastructure and as places through activation, pedestrian-scale design, and prioritization of nonmotorized mobility.

O-8

Develop an ongoing programming plan for public open spaces in The District. Identify resources for ongoing City programming by special events staff, and work with local organizations to activate open space with varied and enriching programming.

O-9

Work with local organizations to design and program a public open space to be used as a weekly farmers market.

O-10

Interpret and incorporate the neighborhood’s rich history as a placemaking strategy.

O-11

Promote intercultural understanding and represent the diversity of The District through open space programming such as festivals and performances.

O-12

Incorporate public art such as murals, sculptures, and other mixed media artwork as a way to reflect neighborhood history and culture.

O-13

Incorporate Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles into the design of all new public open spaces.

Intent: The Heights District will strive to achieve high levels of social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

PolicyPolicy Description

S-1

Meet the City of Vancouver’s Tree Canopy Achievement Program (TreeCAP) Gold Leaf standard to increase urban tree canopy coverage.

S-2

S-2 Design roads, roofs, and parking lots to minimize heat island effects. S-3 S-4 S-5 S-6 S-7 S-8 S-9 S-10 S-11 Provide a variety of active open spaces that provide recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities, including recreation areas and community gardens.

S-3

Pursue Fitwel Community certification as a nationally certified project.

S-4

Strive to exceed relevant sustainability benchmarks for new buildings and infrastructure, similar to what is required for LEED certification standards. All publicly owned buildings shall meet or exceed LEED Gold Certification.

S-5

Create landscapes that demonstrate and embody sustainability, such as rain gardens and drought resistant plant palettes that contribute positively to the ecosystem.

S-6

Explore opportunities for district-level solutions to waste management and energy production.

S-7

Explore opportunities for local rainwater collection and use pervious paving materials where feasible.

S-8

Explore opportunities to reduce supply chains through local food production and create opportunities to buy food from local distributors at farmers markets, grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants.

S-9

Find ways to ecologically connect Park Hill Cemetery to Blandford Canyon and the ravines that lead to Burnt Bridge Creek, restoring the natural network across the plateau.

S-10

Create pollinator pathways and other natural features that connect the Blandford Canyon, Burnt Bridge Creek, and Park Hill Cemetery ecosystems.

S-11

Create robust, innovative, and visually appealing storm water management infrastructure as part of a site wide strategy to fully treat and manage the water quality impacts of runoff. The infrastructure should work in harmony with the local ecological system.

Plan Implementation

The project is now in the first phase of Plan implementation, which includes the following activities:

  • Creation of a new Heights-specific mixed-use (HX) zoning district and associated design guidelines
  • Updates to street standard details
  • Adoption of a Planned Action for the District
  • Fitwel community certification for the Tower Mall Redevelopment Area
  • Demolition of Tower Mall building

Public Process

The new zoning code, associated design guidelines and planned action for the Heights District require their own Planning Commission and City Council adoption process, which includes opportunities for public input and engagement. Community members will be able to provide public comment through Planning Commission and City Council workshops and hearings.

The project team will continue to work with all stakeholders that participated in the planning process, including Neighborhood Associations and coalitions, people who served on the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the planning process, businesses, property owners, school groups, service providers and agency partners (C-TRAN, Vancouver Public Schools). There will also be targeted outreach and engagement with community-based organizations, renters, people with disabilities and lower income community members to ensure that engagement on this project continues to be equitable and includes a diverse set of community voices.

If you would like to receive updates about the first stage of Heights District plan implementation and opportunities for public input, you can:

New Heights Mixed-Use (HX) Zoning District

Heights Mixed-Use (HX) is a proposed new zone classification specific to the Heights District that is intended to promote a flexible mix of residential, retail, and employment land uses and a walkable land use pattern, allowing for living and working within walking distance of each other. The HX zone will include development standards intended to provide a framework to realize the community's vision and policy direction for the District, and implement the sub-district approach in order to address the unique character and needs of each area. The new zoning district will also have accompanying discretionary design guidelines that will be applied as part of the project review and approval process to complement the development standards in guiding high-quality, sustainable development in the District.

Sub-District Approach

Map of the character zones/sub-districts established for the Heights District showing where they are applied. The character zones established for the District include the Activity Center, Residential Neighborhood, Innovation Hub, and District Gateways.

Map of the character zones/sub-districts established for the Heights District. Click this image for a larger version.


The District’s organizational structure is defined by a series of character zones, or sub-districts, that provide a unique set of design pre-requisites. Each character zone is expressed differently to address unique character attributes, massing, scale and uses, as well as how they relate to the context of adjacent uses. The following character zones have been established for The District:

  • District Gateways serve as entries to the District and include elements that define it. Buildings help frame the intersections, public art and signage provide wayfinding, and the scale and context of adjacent uses are acknowledged and respected.
  • The Activity Center is the “heart” of the District with the most diversity of uses, highest density of buildings, highest quality of construction materials, and amenities.
  • The Residential Neighborhood includes lower-scale townhomes, family housing, quiet, tree-lined streets, and parks, with views toward Park Hill Cemetery’s open spaces and informal walking paths.
  • The Innovation Hub incorporates eclectic uses, such as health-supportive services, office employment, and live/work uses, at a comfortable scale adjacent to the proposed MacArthur Boulevard greenbelt.

Proposed Development Standards

The project team has developed proposed HX zone development standards that reflect the vision articulated in the Heights District Plan and balance the needs of a variety of stakeholders. Over several months the proposed standards have been adjusted to reflect feedback from the Planning Commission and City Council, community members, property owners, and the development community in the following ways:

  • Step down to 40 ft for development abutting residentially zoned property
  • Step down 140 feet from Idaho Street
  • 2-story building height maximums fronting Idaho St. and fronting the portion of Devine closest to Idaho Street within the 140 ft step down distance
  • Only residential uses allowed fronting Idaho Street and the majority of Devine north of Mill Plain
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles incorporated throughout draft design guidelines document
  • Primarily residential ground floor uses along MacArthur, to allow for gradual transition from residential to commercial uses
  • Buffering requirements adjacent to residential zoning tied to building height increases
  • Increased building height maximums in the core of the redevelopment area, in the Activity Center and Residential Neighborhood sub-districts
  • Added minimum residential density requirement to ensure residential densities are adequate to support amenities and services desired by stakeholders
  • Not proposing to reduce building heights below existing zoning on most parcels. The exception is for development abutting existing residential per step down requirements
  • Building heights of up to 50 ft in Innovation Hub and in District Gateways where not abutting residentially zoned parcels; removed step down requirement
  • Updated parking standard for senior housing- maintain consistency with overall citywide average until specialty parking standards adjusted citywide in compliance with state law
  • Live/work added to permitted ground floor uses in several areas to allow flexibility
  • ADUs permitted to allow flexibility
  • Added artisan and specialty goods production to allowed uses, with size restrictions, to increase ground floor flexibility
  • Rooftop equipment, parapets/railings, rooftop solar equipment, etc. can exceed building height limitations but must be appropriately screened
  • Added flexibility to surface parking screening requirements
  • Reduced complexity and specificity of ground floor use regulations to provide greater flexibility in some areas and more carefully calibrate specific limitations in key areas where ground floor activation or predominantly residential uses are central to the vision
  • Marijuana retail a limited use per regulations in VMC 20.884

The proposed parking standards for the District are designed to ensure a right sized approach for the area. The standards are based on a multi-modal, complete streets model. The Redevelopment Area will be served by a new Mill Plain Bus Rapid Transit Line and enhanced bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. To maintain compatibility with existing single-family neighborhoods adjacent to the Redevelopment Area, the proposed standards describe a tiered approach to parking requirements in alignment with the sub-district framework and consistent with policy direction provided in the Plan. This will result in higher minimum parking ratios in areas near existing single-family homes, while reducing the parking ratios in the sub-districts where enhanced transportation options, ample on street parking, and shared parking opportunities are available.

The minimum number of parking spaces required for residential uses may be reduced per the table below if the City approves a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan for the proposed development. The TDM plan will generally consist of:

  • Narrative describing the characteristics of the proposed development and how it is served by the larger transportation system
  • Specific TDM measures to be employed to reduce transportation via single-occupancy vehicles and resulting on-site parking needs
  • A description of how TDM measures will be communicated to users
  • A description of how users will be required or encouraged to use TDM measures
  • A proposed process for monitoring individual and overall use of TDM measures and reporting their use to the City annually
TDM – Menu of tools projects must select from to access residential parking reductions

Parking cash-outs/decoupling cost of parking from rent

Must select at least 1

Free/discounted transit passes (reduced rate of 75% or more)

At least 5% of available parking spaces for priority shared/high occupancy vehicles

Must select at least 3

On-site car share program accounting for at least 5% of total parking spaces

Guaranteed ride home – Option to pay into and utilize City’s existing program

Shared micro-cargo/cargo bikes

Onsite provision of repair services for bicycles & other non-vehicular mobility options

Minimum off-street parking requirements for residential uses by character zone/sub-district.
Character ZoneProposed Minimum Off-Street Parking RequirementsProposed Parking Reductions with TDM
Activity Center1/1.75/1
Residential Neighborhood1/1.75/1
Innovation Hub1.25/11/1
District Gateway1.25/1
  • 1:1 for development not abutting residentially-zoned properties
  • No reductions for development abutting residentially-zoned properties

Map showing proposed minimum residential parking requirements, and proposed reductions with Transportation Demand Management (TDM), for the HX zone by sub-district. The sub-districts established for the District include the Activity Center, Residential Neighborhood, Innovation Hub, and District Gateways.
Map showing proposed minimum residential parking requirements, and proposed reductions with Transportation Demand Management (TDM), for the HX zone by sub-district. Click this image for a larger version.

For non-residential uses, minimum off-street parking requirements under HX zone regulations include:

HX ZoneLand Uses
HotelSenior LivingOfficeCommercial
Proposed Minimum Parking requirements.5/lodging unit1/ living unit1/1,000 sfNo minimum requirement for ground floor commercial uses (retail, restaurant, community facilities, etc.), utilize on-street system

Under the proposed standards, building height maximums are set by character zone/sub-district. Following urban design best practices, the proposed code standards will allow for varying building heights to ensure compatibility with the surrounding context, optimize viewsheds, discourage the canyon effect, and provide pedestrian-scale design at the street level. Where building heights are required to be stepped down, the following depth standards will be applied:

  • Building heights will be reduced to 3 stories/40 feet approximately 60 ft from residentially-zoned property
  • On the fire station parcel, building heights will be reduced to 2 stories/35 ft approximately 140 ft from Idaho Street
Character ZoneProposed Maximum Building Height
Activity Center85 ft
Residential Neighborhood85 ft
Innovation Hub50 ft
District Gateway
  • 50 ft for development not abutting residentially-zoned properties
  • 40 ft for development abutting residentially-zoned properties
  • 35 ft for development fronting Idaho St and a portion of Devine Street north of Mill Plain

Map showing proposed maximum building heights for the HX zone by sub-district. The sub-districts established for the District include the Activity Center, Residential Neighborhood, Innovation Hub, and District Gateways.
Map showing proposed maximum building heights for the HX zone by sub-district. Click this image for a larger version.

The new HX zone will also include minimum densities for residential development by sub-district to ensure the vision and target for residential units established through the Heights District Plan are met.

Minimum residential density by sub-district

Character Zone

Minimum Density

Activity Center

75 dwelling units per acre

Residential Neighborhood

45 dwelling units per acre

Innovation Hub

30 dwelling units per acre

District Gateway

30 dwelling units per acre

The City of Vancouver has set a goal to achieve 28% tree canopy coverage by 2030. The proposed HX zone regulations include enhanced landscaping which aligns with this effort. Enhanced landscaping looks like:

  • Planting large evergreen and deciduous trees planted 30 feet on center.
  • Identifying preferred tree and plant species for public spaces from the City forester approved District-wide palette.

Current development regulations and allowed uses within Community Commercial (CC) zoning designation do not support development that aligns with the vison and goals for the Heights District neighborhood. The table below shows permitted and prohibited uses for the new HX zone:

Permitted Uses

Prohibited Uses

· Housing

· Civic uses

· Day care facilities

· Eating/drinking establishments

· General retail

· Artisan and specialty good production

· General and medical office

· Temporary surface parking

·Limited recreational marijuana retail


· Non-accessory permanent surface parking

· Outdoor & bulk sales

· Motor vehicle sales/rental/service

· Self-storage

· Industrial uses

· Animal kennel/shelters

· Detention facilities

Ground Floor Uses

Map showing proposed ground floor uses.

The new HX zoning designation will ensure that future development in the Heights District aligns with the vision and project objectives in the Plan by refining and specifying allowable uses to:

  • Ensure activation of ground floor uses in the Activity Center which would narrow allowed uses for this sub-district and provide additional guidance on appropriate ground floor office uses.
  • Find the right mix of residential uses on the ground floor in the Innovation Hub, where a mix of housing, retail and office is envisioned

Minimum bicycle parking requirements in the new HX zone will be consistent with the City of Vancouver Bicycle Parking Guidelines, and are intended to support the vision for the Heights District as a multi-modal, walkable neighborhood center. The bicycle parking standards provide minimum requirements for both short- and long-term bike parking, and vary for different uses in the Heights.

Minimum bicycle parking requirements for different uses

Uses

Required Short-Term Bike Parking

Required Long-Term Bike Parking

Residential

.05 per dwelling unit for dwellings with 5 or more units

1 per dwelling unit for dwellings with 5 or more units

Commercial

1 per 5,000 square feet of floor area, 2 space minimum

1 per 15,000 sf of floor area, 2 minimum

Office

1 per 25,000 sf of floor area, 2 spaces minimum

1 per 5,000 sf of floor area, 2 minimum

Civic/Institutional Buildings

1 per 5,000 sf of floor area, 2 spaces minimum

1 per 15,000 sf of floor area, 2 minimum

Lodging

2 minimum

1 per 10 rooms

Parks

2 minimum for pocket parks and open spaces
4 minimum for neighborhood parks, community parks and community gardens

None

Other development standards included in the new HX zone include:

  • Massing and Scale: Façade breaks, build to line, massing breaks, etc.
  • Modulation/Façade Articulation: Ground floor transparency, minimum ground floor height
  • Entrances: Ground floor, recessed floor level, vehicle, townhome garage parking
  • Roof Forms: Lines, projections, screening, materials, decks
  • Secondary Architectural Elements: Visual interest, encroachment, weather protection, pedestrian oriented features and interest generating features, blank walls
  • Materials and Colors
  • Landscape Design: Heights-specific native and adaptive plant species list under development
  • Stormwater Management
  • Signage

Design Guidelines

Design guidelines are also being developed to help ensure high-quality and sustainable development in the Heights District over time in coordination with the HX zone development standards. These address all aspects of development that contribute to the vision for the District and Tower Mall Redevelopment Area, including public spaces, streets and streetscapes, and the way buildings look and function. The design guidelines are organized around key design topics with an intent statement, standards, and guidelines:

  • Standards are prescriptive requirements codified in the HX zone, and consistent with the new Heights-specific street standard details as applicable.
  • Guidelines are a flexible and discretionary tool administered in concert with city codes and development standards to ensure that individual projects meet the vision and design objectives for the District.

The contents of the design guidelines is broken into ten main sections that cover the following:

Public Infrastructure

  • Includes the principal street system, blocks and streets, the Loop and internal streets, streetscapes, traffic calming, sidewalks, parks and open spaces, landscape, and stormwater management.
  • Heights Native and Adaptive Plant Species List (currently under development).

Building Typologies

  • Intent is to provide a diverse range of building types that contribute to overall District character and enhance the experience of users.
  • Includes building variation and architectural diversity, transparency, design, etc.
  • Addresses different types of uses, including civic, institutional, religious; townhomes; mixed use residential; and mixed use commercial.

Architecture: Includes massing and scale (building height, step downs and transitions, build to line, etc.); modulation and façade articulation; entrances; roof forms; secondary architectural features (weather protection, blank walls, etc.); and service and loading areas.

Other Sections: Includes materials and colors; signage; public art; parking; lighting design; utilities and screening; and sustainable site and development design.

Planned Action

The Planned Action for the Heights District is another element of Plan implementation that is supported by the previously completed Planning Action Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) prepared as part of the planning process. The Planned Action is established by city ordinance and subject to the mitigation document, which provides specific mitigation measures to offset any impacts identified in the FEIS and conditions of approval for projects developed in the District.

The Planned Action Ordinance (PAO) provides for streamlined review and approval of projects that meet Planned Action criteria and thresholds established by the Heights District Plan, which does not include public notice and provides for limited appeal as long as the project is consistent with the Heights District Plan. Development thresholds and mitigation activities included in the PAO are as follows:

Development thresholds consistent with the Heights District Plan:

  • 1,800 residential units
  • 204,000 sf of commercial development (includes office and retail)
  • 36,000 square feet of institutional development

Mitigation activities consistent with those identified in the FEIS:

  • Adoption of the HX zone and design guidelines
  • Compliance with all existing regulations
  • Transportation compliance letter for all projects
  • Proportionate share funding for upgrades on existing arterial streets
  • Monitoring parking needs/impacts in District and adjacent neighborhoods

Next Steps

  • Planning Commission public hearing scheduled for June 8.
  • City Council first reading and public hearing to be scheduled.
  • Continued updates to this website as draft proposals are developed and refined.
  • More information added to the Be Heard page as draft standards are further developed and refined.
  • Ongoing engagement with stakeholders throughout first phase of Plan implementation and beyond.

Q & A

Do you have a question about Heights District Plan implementation? Ask it here!

Project staff will respond to your questions as soon as possible. 

In most cases, your question and our answer will be visible to all users after we respond to it. Should we need to ask a clarifying, follow-up question, we may respond to you privately instead.

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    What is the height limit of proposed buildings on Macarther, across from the entrance to Dubois neighborhood on Phoenix Way?

    Taxpayer asked 23 days ago

    The existing Community Commercial (CC) zoning allows for 50 ft. building height maximums at properties along MacArthur. The draft proposed new Heights Mixed Use (HX) zoning also proposes to allow buildings up to 50 ft., which means there would be no change in maximum building heights if the updated standards are approved. The proposed draft HX zoning district does include limitations on the types of uses allowed there, architectural and design standards, allowances for residential on the ground floor to provide for a transition between existing neighborhoods and commercial development, and several other components that are not part of the current zoning.