First Baptist Westbank tower
View of site showing church incorporated into the design. New social housing building is to the left.

Westbank’s ambitious condo and social housing proposal for the site of the First United Church at Burrard and Nelson streets is set to make a major impact on downtown Vancouver’s skyline.

Not to worry heritage lovers — the church isn’t going anywhere — in fact, it will be restored and seismically upgraded. The new condo tower appears to blend into the church, and is even inspired by it with its ‘organ pipe’ design.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for July 18, 2017 at 6 p.m. at Vancouver City Hall.

First Baptist Westbank tower
View of site showing church incorporated into the design. New social housing building is to the left.
First Baptist Westbank tower
View of site showing church incorporated into the design. New social housing building is to the left.
First Baptist Westbank tower
View of site showing church incorporated into the design. New social housing building is to the left.

The city is now considering the rezoning application for the site at 969 Burrard Street and 1019-1045 Nelson Street, which is on one of the highest points of lands downtown, meaning this tower will stand out on the skyline, much like the Wall Centre across the street. Architects are Bing Thom.

Westbank proposes a 56 storey market residential tower, a new eight storey social housing building owned by the church, restoration of the existing church building (a Class A Heritage building), plus new church multipurpose spaces, including a 37-space child daycare, gymnasium, counselling centre and offices.

Units in the tower look to be mostly larger two bedroom units, and some three bedroom and den units measuring over 2,000 square feet. Penthouses appear to have rooftop pools and hot tubs. It goes without saying this project will be luxurious, but at least it’s helping upgrade the church building and contributing much needed social housing.

First Baptist Westbank tower
First Baptist tower, proposed by Westbank, at night.
First Baptist Westbank tower
Rendering showing how base of tower meets historic church building, which will be seismically upgraded.