UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mixed-use development along suburban Vancouver streets McIntyre, James Lewis


The purpose of this thesis is twofold. First, to examine mixed-use development outside of the downtown core as a means to increase the housing stock of Vancouver by determining why this form of development is occurring and to assess the habitability of the housing provided in these projects. Secondly, the survey methodology utilized in the study was designed to obtain information in an exploratory manner, to both assist in the future design and management of mixed-use projects, and to provide the basis for speculating on the potential role for mixed-use projects in commercial districts outside of the Central Business District. Chapter One outlines the scope of the study. Four objectives are established for the thesis: to determine why mixed-use projects are being developed; to derive a profile of mixed-use building residents; to evaluate the level of housing satisfaction expressed by these residents; and, to discuss the implications for commercial districts if mixed-use development was to be encouraged. Two hypotheses are presented to explain why this form of development is occurring: first, there is likely an excess of commercially zoned land relative to market demand for space above the ground floor; and second, a mixed-use building possibly offers investment diversification by combining two different uses in a single building. As well, the study sought to test hypotheses regarding mixed-use residential rent levels, building security and the type of residents attracted to this form of housing. The second chapter traces the practice of land use separation from its initial emphasis on segregating non-compatible activities through to the recent reassessment of strictly separating uses with the widening acceptance of permitting and encouraging mixed-use. Based on a review of land development trends and planning policies implemented in Vancouver, the study finds that while the inducement of a floorspace bonus offered in certain areas of the downtown core has met with limited success, mixed-use development has occurred for some time in many of the commercial districts outside of the CBD. The survey-questionnaire methodology utilized in the study is described in Chapter Three. Of the 144 mixed-use projects built in the study area between January 1, 1974 and June 1, 1983, 50 were randomly selected for the two-stage sampling procedure. Questionnaires were first distributed to the developer/owners of the sample group. With the permission of those owner respondents participating in the survey, a second questionnaire was then delivered to the residential occupants. Both questionnaires were pre-tested through a pilot survey. The survey-questionnaire methodology was found to be difficult and time-consuming, but the only means available to obtain the data necessary to address the research objectives of the study. The results of the two survey-questionnaires are presented in Chapter Four. The study hypotheses are re-examined in light of the research findings discussed in Chapter Five. The results of the developer/owner survey are found to validate the two hypotheses suggested to explain the occurrence of mixed-use development outside of the downtown. Developer/owner respondents reported few problems in either developing or managing a mixed-use building and stressed the importance of careful design, quality construction, and good management practices in ensuring the success of these projects. The resident survey indicated that combining residential with commercial uses appears to provide a satisfactory housing environment. Athough the residents surveyed indentified several problems with living in a mixed-use building (noise, inadequate security, lack of parking), the overall level of satisfaction reported was high and corresponds closely with the findings of other medium density housing evaluation studies. The resident survey group was found to be similar demographically to an apartment comparison sub-population, though the sample group contained proportionately fewer residents in the elderly age cohorts. The study found little support for the assumption that mixed-use building rents would be discounted due to location and combination of uses. The hypothesis that combined uses would enhance building security due to mutual surveillance was likewise rejected. In the concluding chapter the implications of the research findings are discussed. Conclusions drawing upon the results of the two survey-questionnaires are presented to assist in future mixed-use project design and development. It is suggested that mixed-use, in addition to being a viable form of development as demonstrated through the developer/owner survey, may offer several public benefits: the more intensive use of scarce urban land; a broadened choice of housing; and, increased market support and added diversity in existing commercial districts. The need to critically examine these various arguments in favour of mixed-use is emphasized. Lastly, the role of the public sector vis-a-vis mixed-use development is discussed and the need for further research is identified.

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