Concord Pacific affordable artist studio clickbait

Concord Pacific nets some positive press over a handful of affordable art studios, but the “inclusionary zoning” sleight-of-hand is mostly about clever marketing and is deserving of some deeper analysis beyond the clickbait.

The story about the massive development corporation including 20 affordable artist live work studios in its Concord Gardens project sounds great --but on a closer critical review, it is quite literally the least they can do.

In a nod to the light industrial spaces that were bulldozed to make way for the project, the 20 artist units were mandated by the CIty of Richmond as part of the official Richmond Arts Policy that would see the area superficially branded as an arts district.

Those twenty arts units, along with fifty-six affordable residential units are part of a larger masterplan development that includes five towers, and over a million square feet of residential development comprising 1,201 units.[1]

Billed by Concord as the “Largest World Class Community in Richmond”, the project was marketed extensively overseas, and prices out many local Richmonders. [2]

The inclusionary zoning (a percentage of affordable or accessible housing included in a project) for this project is an underwhelming 6%. By comparison, Vancouver is supposed to mandate 20% inclusionary zoning on projects over 200 units (they often don’t, but that’s another story). In Montreal, it’s 30%.

While I wouldn’t normally comment on Richmond development and politics, given that this story is making the rounds on social media in a positive and uncritical light, I feel it needs to be reframed.

Concord is a massive developer in our region: not only they are significant donors to the mayor and Vision Vancouver, but they are the biggest land developer stakeholders in the viaducts removal scheme, and have big plans for the mixed-use industrial lands on the Burrard Slopes (Molson Brewery site at 2nd and Burrard).