Leon project suffers blow
Wayne Moore - Sep 15, 2020 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

The North Vancouver man hoping to completely revamp the 200 block of Leon Avenue was dealt a serious setback Monday afternoon.

Anthony Beyrouti, owner of the Vancouver-based ticket reseller VenueKings.com, was before city council Monday afternoon asking for a site-specific text amendment to allow short-term rentals on one of three towers proposed for the block.

Council voted 7-1 against the application. Coun. Ryan Donn voted in favour, while Coun. Maxine DeHart recused herself from the debate.

The tower in question is at 1660 Water St., at the intersection with Leon.

When the project was first unveiled in January, Beyrouti indicated the tower at the corner would be a hotel, adding he had hoped to have short-term rentals available in all three buildings.

“Hotels come with several challenges. One, financing is much more strict with hotels, and two parking requirements are much different for hotels,” Beyrouti said.

“This is a unique atmosphere and a unique location and a unique city. I think people would like an opportunity to not feel like they’re in a hotel, but in somebody’s apartment or in their own home atmosphere. We feel this is a phenomenal opportunity to enhance the area.”

He also said it was clear planners were not going to go along with the original concept, prompting the change.

Beyrouti also indicated the building would have a front desk and concierge service, prompting questions this was indeed a hotel.

“More like a staycation type deal would be my preferred terminology, but I can see how the comparisons could be made.”

If allowed, planner Adam Cseke said a rental building would also be taxed at a lower rate by the city than a commercial hotel.

Beyrouti told council on numerous occasions he believes the development of this portion of Leon Avenue is in the best interests of the city and, without the text amendment allowing for the short-term rental concept, he would have to re-look at the math.

“Right now, this project is being treated the same as a waterfront project, but in a different location. We are not getting outside positive thoughts toward the fact this is literally the worst area in the entire downtown core and has been a consistent trouble location for people in downtown, I would imagine, for council (and) I would imagine for the mayor,” he said.

“This allows us to have better financial opportunities to keep the property affordable but also allow for the property to happen. I know exactly what it would take for them to say yes to getting the property approved, the problem I’m not sure if the math works for that to happen.”

While the redevelopment has not yet come before council for a development permit or development variance permit, Beyrouti indicated it would include 732 suites in the three towers—two of 19 floors and one of 26 floors.

Those numbers, as Mayor Basran cautioned, are only estimates at this time.

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