Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dolphin Cinemas making way for Brentwood Theatre?

I remember as a kid enjoying my first theatre experience at the Dolphin Cinema in 1982.  The movie was "The Sword and the Sorcerer".  I recently watched "The Lorax" with my kids there.  My kids won't have the memories that I've had watching movies on Hastings Street in North Burnaby as the old theatre is slated for demolition to make way for a new development.

I've been wondering what would become of the Dolphin Cinema once the Brentwood Movie Theatre comes to fruition in the Brentwood Mall redevelopment.  I guess I have the answer now.  As the Burnaby Heights street front along Hastings continues its transformation on either side of Willingdon, old places like the Dolphin that I enjoyed in my youth will begin to disappear the way Sach's Arcade did by the mid 90s.

This story just came out today in the Burnaby Now and Burnaby NewsLeader.

Dolphin Cinemas building up for redevelopment

The rezoning application for the development came before Burnaby council at Monday night's meeting.
The developer, Heights Entertainment, is partnering with the Vancouver Resource Society on the project, which would include two levels of commercial and office space, and two levels of residential space, according to the application.
The society is a non-profit organization that provides housing for people with disabilities, allowing them to operate businesses from their home.
The development would include 11 housing units for the society on the second floor.
The third and fourth floors would contain market residential units, while the ground floor would be for commercial space.
The theatre owners could not be reached for comment before deadline.
Dolphin Cinemas is owned by Hollywood 3, which has theatres in Surrey and Pitt Meadows, as well.

Dolphin Cinema site slated for redevelopment

The Dolphin Cinema, which has served North Burnaby for five decades, could soon be demolished to make way for a new development.

The property at 4555 Hastings St. is the subject of a rezoning application which proposes to replace the movie theatre with a four-storey mixed-use development.
Under the Hastings Street Area Plan, to achieve the maximum permitted floor space, the project would have to comprise commercial space on the first two storeys, with residential on the top two floors, according to a city staff report.
The developer, Heights Entertainment, has proposed that instead of the second floor being used for commercial space, that it house 11 accessible rental units through a partnership with the Vancouver Resource Society.
The society, a non-profit organization that specializes in providing accessible housing for people with disabilities, would own the units and rent them to tenants who meet its eligibility criteria.
A Section 219 Covenant would be sought requiring that over the long term the 11 units continue to be used as accessible rental housing, the report said. The third and fourth floors would comprise market housing units.
A rezoning, as well as a minor amendment to the Hastings Street Area Plan, are required to allow the added housing on the second floor.
Meanwhile, the Dolphin Cinemas continues to operate until it's told otherwise.
"It's still in talks and right now we're continuing to run the business as usual," said theatre manager Nathan Ferguson on Monday.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Changing Views

Affinity and Perspectives have taken their places at Douglas and Lougheed.  In the not too distant future, the following sightline will disappear by the time phase 2 of the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment is concluded.

The northwest corner of Lougheed and Beta will see a high-rise tower making up part of a village district on the eastern edge of the Brentwood Mall site.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Target rumours continue

Well, this will be the last mention of Target in Brentwood until it has been definitively confirmed what will become of Zellers.  Here goes:

It appears that Target may not come to Brentwood after all because it will be too close to it's Target store slated to open in Metrotown.  It's been said that Walmart and Canadian Tire have declined to replace the outgoing Zellers after it closes its doors and although staff at other Zellers locations have been given notices, the staff at Brentwood have not.  However, unionized workers have signed an agreement that ends March 2013. (article below)  This most likely means that Zellers will be closing by March 2013.

Rumour has it that a large grocery store is eyeing the space left behind by Zellers.  A grocery store would definitely be a welcome addition to the area.  Sobeys has been the grocery store rumoured to be interested in Brentwood.


Zellers members accept new deal

March 27, 2012
UFCW 1518 members employed at Zellers Brentwood Mall store have voted 89% in favour of terms for a new contract.
Members at this store have been in a difficult situation regarding their future job security with the impending takeover of the company by Target. Highlights of the agreement include signing bonuses, and a store closure agreement. The term of the agreement is retroactive to April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2013.
The Union Negotiating Committee is Caroline Lacroix and Germaine Rion, assisted by Donna Tremblay (UFCW 1518 Staff Negotiator).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Target's future in Brentwood confirmed

The following Burnaby Now story confirms the future arrival of Target to Brentwood Mall.

Zellers closes pharmacy business


 The Zellers Pharmacy locations at Metropolis at Metrotown and Brentwood Town Centre have closed.
According to a letter sent to customers from David Pickwoad, vicepresident of Zellers Drug Stores, prescription and patient records from the Brentwood location were transferred to the Save-On Foods Pharmacy at Madison Centre, 4399 Lougheed Hwy.
Records from the Metrotown Zellers Pharmacy were transferred to the Save-On Foods at Metropolis at Metrotown, according to a message on the pharmacy's voicemail.
The Zellers Pharmacy business, based in Ontario, has been closed by the company.
A group of Zellers pharmacists in Ontario tried to block the sale of patient records to other retailers, according to multiple media reports, but the Ontario Supreme Court rejected the injunction application at the end of April.
The Zellers locations at Brentwood and Metrotown are two of the more than 100 stores being taken over by Target Canada and turned into Target locations starting in 2013.
Zellers store closing sales have started at various locations in Canada, though none in the Lower Mainland.

Vantage continues to rise

The Vantage project continues to rise at the corner of Lougheed Hwy and Rosser Ave.  The following photos show a progression of the project up to its current stage beginning in May 2010.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Firepots: A place to enjoy a hot pot

The following story was recently published in the Burnaby Now.

Hot pot with a twist

Charlie Xu isn't your typical 25-year-old. Sure, he enjoys snowboarding in the winter and longboarding in the summer, but he won't be doing much of that now that he recently opened Firepots, a new restaurant at 4455 Lougheed Hwy. in the Brentwood area.
Xu is trying to bring the concept of traditional Chinese hot pots - but with a modern and Western twist - to the Lower Mainland.
"I was on vacation in Beijing when I saw this in a mall," said Xu. "It was a much different setup because it was trying to appeal to more than just the Oriental (diner). This is hot pots for a new generation. This is hot pots for people who don't have two hours for lunch. This is for people who want to eat a healthy meal with healthy ingredients."
On a recent weekday, I sat down with the Xu family to sample some of their offerings and was impressed by the variety and complexity of many of the dishes.
We started with the pan-fried gyozas, which had a great spicy kick courtesy of the smart choice of cooking with chili oil.
We followed with the spicy cashew chicken wings, which were spicy indeed, courtesy of another great use of chili powder and chili oil.
To cool my taste buds, we had the soup of the day, a great broccoli and cheese number that you won't find at many Asian restaurants.
The soup was delicious and a perfect prelude to our three signature Firepots dishes.
Our first dish is the Crown Daisy steak firepot, featuring steak slices, Crown Daisy, needle and oyster mushrooms, Yakisoba noodles and a satay spicy soup broth.
What makes the meal even more fun is you can hold a conversation while you're cooking, and you can cook at your own speed.
And for those people a bit scared of their cooking ineptitude, you can order any dish and have the kitchen prepare it for you instead.
Our second dish, the coconut curry chicken, includes chickens, potatoes, carrots, cloud ear mushrooms, jasmine rice and a tasty coconut curry south broth.
We also try the seafood medley firepot, which includes fish cutlets, prawns, scallops, spinach, tomatoes, seaweed, cilantro, lemon grass and rice vermicelli.
The portions are ample, and because the meals feel so light, there's plenty of room for dessert - the restaurant offers both hot and cold desserts.
Firepots is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights). See www.firepots. ca or call 604-293-9955.

Friday, May 18, 2012

View from the food court

Vantage (below) is nearing its full height as Solo District prepares to rise in front of it.  This view will be much different 2 years from now as Vantage is followed by Solo which will be followed by the Brentwood Mall Entertainment Plaza.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Target not coming to Brentwood Mall?

I've been hearing through the grape vine that Zellers will be closing down in 2013. It's also been said that Target will not be going in to replace the outgoing Zellers. Last year, Target Corp. purchased the leases of all Zellers locations across Canada and announced its intention to expand into Canada.  The leases for space not taken up by Target will, according to Target, be sold to other US retailers.

Solo District Sign

A large sign advertising the Solo District development has been erected on Willingdon Ave in front of the sales presentation centre which should open shortly.  The project has already signed a major tenant in Whole Foods which should open in late 2014 early 2015.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

City to update transportation plan

Current and future traffic concerns in the Brentwood area have factored into the City of Burnaby's recently-expressed intention to consider updating its transportation plan.  According to the following Burnaby Now article, Mayor Derek Corrigan is primarily concerned with increased traffic resulting from the opening of the new Port Mann Bridge.  The construction of the new Willingdon overpass to accommodate the widening of Hwy 1 is close to completion just south of Still Creek.

The following is the full story in the Burnaby Now:

Burnaby revisits city transportation plans

Travelling from Metrotown to the Heights is bound to get more and more difficult with traffic increasing from other suburbs, so the city is revisiting its transportation plan.
Mayor Derek Corrigan announced at his annual state-of-the-city address last month that Burnaby will be updating its transportation plan this year.
"It's going to be a more comprehensive look at where our traffic is going over the next years," he said in a followup interview. "With all of this growth come new and increased traffic problems."
Corrigan is primarily concerned with the additional traffic expected once the new Port Mann Bridge is completed, he said.
"That is going to encourage people to get into their cars and come in, because they're not going to have that Port Mann bottleneck," he explained. "So now they'll be coming in and creating a new bottleneck at Willingdon in Burnaby."
Corrigan said he is also concerned about TransLink moving forward to replace the Pattullo Bridge, and the traffic increase that will bring.
"I'm sure that makes everybody in Burnaby and New Westminster happy to hear that now there'll be another access point with increased vehicle traffic coming in from north Surrey," he said.
The city will be looking at what it can do to make travelling throughout the city less difficult for residents, with so many people commuting through the city and into Vancouver.
The primary area of concern is the Brentwood neighbourhood, Corrigan added.
"The impact is going to be direct on them," he said. "As traffic stops on Willingdon, because it's bottled up as far as access to First Avenue or Grandview is concerned, people will be looking for ways to get off of the highway, and they'll be looking at North Burnaby, particularly through the Brentwood area but even as far as the Heights."
There will be also be traffic impacts on Metrotown, with more cars going through that area, he said.
While residential access for new developments is accommodated through the Brentwood community plan, Corrigan said, the issue is whether or not the streets are going to be too crowded with cars for them to get access.
"And you can't build your way out of that," he added. "It's going to be a real challenge for us to find ways to cope with traffic that is forced upon us."
The city will be conducting a similar process to that completed in the Heights last year, with public consultations and input from traffic planners and engineers, according to Corrigan. The city hopes to begin working on the plan this year.
"We're not going to unravel this Gordian Knot in a few months," he said.
"We'll have to make some hard decisions about how much traffic we're going to allow into our communities," Corrigan added. "Sometimes it's wiser to constrict roads into areas, and that may also be a big part of transportation planning."
Heights resident Ivan Hnatiuk participated in the public consultations regarding the Heights plan and has made presentations to council regarding traffic concerns in the area.
He hopes that the city conducts public consultations before making recommendations in the citywide plan, he said.
He also hopes residents' safety takes priority overall, he added.
"Fundamentally, I think what would be nice to see in the transportation plan is that safety and livability should be paramount over convenience," he said. "And I think that was one of the key failing points in what was done in the Heights scenario."
The lessons of what worked and what didn't in the Heights transportation planning process can be applied to all of Burnaby, Hnatiuk added.
"Ours is not a unique situation," he said. "I think all residents face the same issue with rat-running, cutting through the neighbourhood."
Peter Cech, another Heights resident who advocated for the safety of area residents during the consultations and to council, is glad the city is revisiting the traffic issues in the city.
"I'm thrilled that the mayor and council listened to the concerns of the residents of the Heights," he said. "But the process that resulted was flawed, in my view, because it wasn't comprehensive."
He hopes a new citywide plan would make sure that traffic control interventions are more interconnected, so that traffic is kept on the main arterial roads, he said.
He intends to take part in any of the future consultations in the Heights area, he said, as he thinks the safety measures taken with the Heights plan were not effective enough.
But he is happy to see the city looking to address the problems on a larger scale, Cech added.
"I think it's pretty remarkable that the city went to the length of even revisiting the traffic concerns in our community, and I think that speaks really well to how inclusive this mayor and council is of people's opinions," he added.
Burnaby is on the right track when it comes to the city's design and traffic planning, according to Gordon Price, urban planner and director of the city program at Simon Fraser University.
"It just needs some tweaking," he said of the city's current transportation system.
"The best transportation plan is a land-use plan," he added, saying that Burnaby's focus on building denser, mixed-use city centres is a good start.
As Burnaby is between Vancouver and the rest of the Lower Mainland, there is not much that can be done to prevent traffic from travelling through the city, Price said.
But the city can make sure residents have a range of travel options aside from owning cars, he explained.
"Really there's only one way to do it. You have to give people some other choices," he said. "They should be able to take transit, and that transit shouldn't be stuck in the traffic."
City planning should include travel options such as cars, a frequent transit network, taxis and car sharing, cycling and walking, he said.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Whole Foods confirmed for Solo District

The following story in the Vancouver Sun has confirmed that Whole Foods is coming to Brentwood as an anchor store in the Solo District project.  The store is slated for opening in late 2014 or early 2015. According to the story, Solo District will be completely built by 2016.

Whole Foods expands into Burnaby

Whole Foods Market has announced plans to open its first Burnaby grocery store as an anchor tenant for the Solo District project at Lougheed and Willingdon near Brentwood Town Centre.
The 40,000-square-foot store, which is expected to open in late 2014 or early 2015, will be the fifth Whole Foods store in B.C. and the first located outside Vancouver and West Vancouver.
The company, which focuses on natural and organic foods, is also considering several other possible locations for new stores, primarily in Metro Vancouver.
“We think there’s potential for many new stores in the Vancouver metropolitan area,” Joe Rogoff, regional president for Whole Foods, Pacific Northwest, said Wednesday, noting that the company is also scouting possibilities in Victoria and the Okanagan.
“Demand for our stores is high.”
Rogoff said Metro Vancouver, with a “very educated population,” has a good demographic for their company.
Lisa Murrell, sales and marketing manager for Appia Developments, which is developing the Solo project, said the new Whole Foods will be part of a mixed commercial and residential project on a 2.4-hectare site.
The Solo development will include four residential towers, and office and shopping space. Pre-sales for the first tower, which is 45 storeys, are planned to start within the next two months.
Murrell said the Solo project will eventually have between 1,300 and 1,400 residential units and is planned to be completed in 2016.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Milestones demolished to make way for Whole Foods?

Riding into Brentwood Station this afternoon, I just noticed that Milestones has been demolished to make way for the Solo District Project.  If the following article is an indicator, the grocery store pegged as an anchor retailer in Solo District may be Whole Foods.

Whole Foods officially coming to Savannah; will open in 2013

Posted: May 2, 2012 - 5:21pm  |  Updated: May 2, 2012 - 5:23pm

After months of speculation, it's official: Whole Foods is coming to Savannah, according to the high-end grocer's second quarter report, released Wednesday.
"The Company recently signed eight new leases averaging 38,600 square feet in size," the report states, "in North Burnaby, B.C.; Alpharetta, GA; Savannah, GA; Maple Grove, MN; Albany, NY; Brooklyn, NY; Memphis, TN; and Toronto, Ontario.
"These stores currently are scheduled to open in fiscal year 2013 and beyond," the report continues.
The Savannah store will move into a portion of the site of the former Backus family automobile dealership at the junction of Victory Drive and Truman Parkway. It will measure 35,000 square feet. 
The high-end grocer will be flanked by shops in a 12,000-square-foot building. Another 12,800-square-foot building is proposed on the western edge of the site.