Thursday, June 27, 2013

Brentwood Mall Redevelopment 2013 Open House

I had an opportunity to attend the Open House yesterday.  There were some interesting bits of information from project representatives including the fact that the Mall is currently looking to entice a movie theatre to anchor the Entertainment Plaza as well as a major retailer to anchor the corner.  Shape Properties is currently in discussions with multiple retailers to set up shop in the Entertainment Plaza.

Looking at the overall 20-year, 3-phase BMR plan, the biggest impact appears to be made immediately with Phase 1 as the 2 tallest towers in Burnaby and potentially Metro Vancouver will accompany the costruction of the Entertainment Plaza and district.

The poster boards on display for the project are available for online viewing at Shape Properties' site.

Traffic changes

The BMR will result in two new traffic signals; one on Lougheed at Alpha and the other at Willingdon at a new entry into the mall north of Halifax and south of Brentlawn.  Both Lougheed Hwy and Willindgon Ave are expected to have 6 lanes improve automobile traffic flow.  Hopefully the signals will be synched with the existing signals or else it`s going to be a traffic nightmare for drivers.  The entry at Alpha will eventually become a full-fledged intersection with drivers being able to cross Lougheed to and from the mall at Alpha.

Beta entry/exit to remain
In earlier BMR presentations, the currently chaotic Beta Ave exit/entry at the southeast end of the mall lot was projected to be closed off to divert traffic to Lougheed Hwy in order to facilitate the development of the smaller, quieter town square in Phase 2 of the BMR.  However, the recent open open house poster boards indicate that the Beta entrance will remain as it is.  Time will tell how the problem of pedestrians attempting to navigate through traffic from Brentwood Drive to the future Brentwood Boulevard will be addressed as the amount of auto traffic coming into the currently underused southeast parking lot increases with the arrival of the 50,000 square foot food store.

Underground Parking
As the BMR progresses, the surrounding parking lot will give way to above-ground amenities and underground parkades.  The Entertainment Plaza will be built above a multilevel parkade with connections preconstructed to join up with future entrances built during phases 2 and 3, including the future entrance that will be situated between Alpha and Beta Aves. 

The following are some `before and after` shots of the proposed development:






Saturday, June 22, 2013

Will cinema be part of Brentwood Mall Redevelopment?

Having gone to see World War Z last night at Silver City Metropolis with throngs of other Friday night movie goers, I've been wondering if the Entertainment Plaza slated for Phase 1 of the BMR will make space for a movie theatre.

I went to see Star Trek into Darkness at the Dolphin Theatre on Wednesday night for what might be the last time I see a movie there as the Dolphin is expected to close its doors in the near future.

With its pending closure, the question arises as to whether or not a new cinema at Brentwood would be feasible.  To make an 'entertainment district' truly an 'entertainment district', a cinema would seem to be an integral part of the plan (at least I would think so).  Perhaps the Open House on Phase 1 might shed some light on the possibility of a "Brentwood Cinemas".

The BMR Open House will take place at the Brentwood Mall food court on Wednesday June 26 from 4-7pm (this upcoming Wednesday).

Friday, June 21, 2013

More details on Brentwood Mall Redevelopment

The following Burnaby Now article provides some new details regarding the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.  The BMR will break ground early next year and affected commercial tenants will begin vacating this summer.

Burnaby Now article below


Brentwood Town Centre is putting up its under construction sign this summer, and the mall's owners are both excited and curious to see what happens next.
Fifty-two years after its grand opening, the mall is about to undergo a complete metamorphosis as Shape Properties' vision of the area takes form.
The master plan states the redevelopment is divided into four phases and will include 10 residential towers, possibly ranging from 20 to 70 storeys and two office towers ranging from 30 to 40 storeys. The design includes a redeveloped commercial centre, a 50,000-square-foot food store and a variety of outdoor spaces. The anticipated number of residential units is between 2,000 and 4,200, which could house about 8,400 people.
Shape Properties acquired the mall in 2010.
The company's executive vice-president of acquisitions and development, Darren Kwiatkowski, says it's an exciting endeavour.
"We're going to start moving on-site services out of the way of phase one this summer, with construction and excavation targeted to start early next year," Kwiatkowski said in a phone interview, adding that, officially, how many phases will be involved is yet to be determined. "The 28-acre site is to be built over 20 years. We have some flexibility in the phasing."
Kwiatkowski also said the redevelopment is going to breathe new life into the area.
"I think it's very exciting that it will create a social heart for the community," he said. "Right now, the site naturally is the commercial core. As it sits today, you have a busy roadway next to a large parking lot with the mall at the back of the property."
The first phase entails the eight acres at the front corner of the site, which includes a community plaza that's about one acre in size, according to Kwiatkowski.
"It really becomes a focal point for the community," he said. "Imagine, as you drive up Willingdon (Avenue), this blank empty corner takes on a life ... it seamlessly ties into the SkyTrain."
Kwiatkowski likened the area to an "urban outdoor living room."
"It's a unique opportunity," he added. "Here, you walk off the SkyTrain and it's seamless, you're in the middle of development - a line with restaurants, outdoor shops."
He said the site ties in with the new bus stops, as the bus loop on Willingdon Avenue is being replaced by on-street stops around the mall and SkyTrain.
"We're fortunate, the natural nature of the site is so powerful (and) what we're planning there is going to be extraordinary," he said. "It's going to be a great amenity to the neighbourhood and to North Burnaby."
As for tenant feedback within the mall, Kwiatkowski said the overall sentiment has been positive.
"The tenants there have been expecting this, just like the neighbourhood, since the city had the area plan in place so long ago," he said. "A lot of tenants are there because they've been hoping this day was coming - that it would be revitalized, new and expanding."
Although Kwiatkowski admitted to some disruption during the construction phase, he said the site is large enough that it can be accommodated.
"We can hoard off the phase in the area, and with signage and enhancements on other areas, keep the experience good," he said. "Part of that is, as you go to the site today, the peripheries of the site, there are parking lots that are not very well utilized, where they will be much more utilized during construction, as the parking lot at the front is closed."
Phase one will also include the former gas station at the corner of Willingdon and Lougheed Highway.
"I think we will also be curious, seeing as to what's going on," he said. "We'll hoard it off, keep quiet, keep the dust down ... enhance entrances that will be more popular now."
He said the changing access points for parking will be a benefit.
As far as consulting with the neighbours, Shape hasn't formally heard from the public since a public hearing at city hall for the rezoning application last summer.
At the public hearing, area residents brought their concerns forward regarding construction noise, an increase in traffic and the heights of the proposed towers.
Since then, Kwiatkowski said he hasn't heard anything negative about the redevelopment, but Shape is having an info session at the mall next week.
On June 26, Shape will host a public information meeting to showcase the first phase of the redevelopment, and is asking for feedback. The open house will be in Brentwood's food court from 4 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Signs of nearing Brentwood Mall Redevelopment

In less than 1 year, the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment will begin to break ground and kick off the dramatic transformation of Brentwood Town Centre.  A couple of days ago, I noticed markings in and around the Brentwood Mall parking lots.  The markings are evidence that planners are actively measuring and marking out the space that will make up Phase 1 of the BMR.  The locations of buildings and the layout of the new street created during Phase 1 between Willingdon Ave and Lougheed Hwy, and the layout of the site perimeter is being marked out along Lougheed Hwy under the station to the corner at Willingdon Ave.   Factors such as power and water lines that exist underneath the concrete surrounding the mall surly make up a major part of the initial planning stages.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Solo District and Brentwood Mall gaining attention

Public information session for Brentwood Mall Redevelopment (BMR)

Shape Properties will be holding a public session for the BMR next Wednesday June 26 at the Brentwood Mall food court from 4-7pm.

Brentwood Bus Loop to be removed

As stated by Shape Properties during earlier public sessions, the Brentwood Mall bus loop will disappear as the BMR unfolds.  The buses will remain as they will be dispersed along Lougheed and Willindgon along the mall perimeter.

Altus second tallest

Solo District's 2nd tower to be constructed, Altus, will become the second tallest tower in BC.   Mayor Derek Corrigan, MP Kennedy Stewart, and MLA Richard Lee were in attendance to see the groundbreaking to begin the construction of Altus.  The construction of the first tower, Stratus, is currently underway.

Solo District from SkyTrain on June 19.

More on the stories in the articles below

The tallest tower east of Burrard Street had a groundbreaking ceremony with special guests this past weekend in Burnaby.
On June 15, Altus - the second phase of the future SOLO District development - broke ground with Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart, Burnaby North MLA Richard Lee and Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan in attendance.
The Appia Developments project will see the Altus tower stand at 550 feet. It is only a few floors short of being as tall as Vancouver's luxurious Shangri-La tower. It will also include the city's first Whole Foods grocery store.
"We're very proud to be building the tallest tower in Burnaby," said Jim Bosa, Appia Developments president, in a media release. "The development of Altus is proof that Burnaby is growing into a livable urban community that is not only a great place to live, but an excellent place to do business, as well."
Construction already began on Stratus, which is phase one of the project, on the corner of Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway in North Burnaby.
As part of Burnaby's density program, the city will receive $32 million in community amenities - including a 4,000-squarefoot community space - and $30 million in cash for off-site amenities.
"These lessons of sustainable community development will serve as a blueprint to fundamentally recreate Brentwood Town Centre into a model green community that will be another legacy for future generations," Corrigan said in the release.
SOLO District will bring 1,400 residential units and about 3,000 people to the Brentwood area.
"Aside from the height of the building, we're very excited about the roof-top entertainment space that will be offered to residents of Altus," said George Wong, Magnum Projects Ltd. principal, in a media release. "The top floor will be home to Club 55, a luxurious indoor-outdoor clubhouse offering residents more than 5,000 square feet of recreational space. Simply put, Altus will have the best views in the Lower Mainland."
The project is also incorporating a green feel with geothermal heat exchange systems, individual gas meters in each condo, a car sharing agreement, electric car charging stations and transit passes for some residents.
Altus sales begin on June 22. For more information, visit www.solo
Appia has also launched a social media contest, with four $100 gift cards to Brown's Social House and Joey Restaurants as prizes. To enter, visit the sales centre at 2131 Willingdon Ave. and snap a photo of the Google map pin, which is hidden in the sales centre.
Then tweet the photo or post it on Instagram with the hashtag #SOLOPin.
The contest closes on July 31.
Social media conference
A group of Simon Fraser University students are teaching local businesses how to interact via social media.
Co-founders Lesley Yuen and Saline Siu are looking to empower local businesses with the launch of the OMG Social Media Conference on Aug. 15.
"There's a gap and small businesses are suffering," Yuen said in a media release. "They want to sell to millenials, but they don't know how to reach them. For a crowd struggling to get any online engagements, walking them through the process of creating a social media marketing strategy is more useful."
HootSuite, SFU Beedie School of Business and Telus are sponsoring the event, which will feature three speaker sessions, three keynote presentations and 10 social media experts.
"As the online media generation, we are extremely familiar with social media - a luxury that we often take for granted," Siu said. "But it is crucial in the success of small business owners and we want to help bridge the gap between these generations."
The conference is Thursday, Aug. 15 from 8: 30 a.m. to 6: 30 p.m. at SFU Segal, 500 Granville St. in Vancouver. For more information, visit www.omgsocialmedia. org.
Plans for Brentwood mall
What will the future of Brentwood Town Centre look like? A Shape Properties public info session at the mall aims to answer that.
On June 26, Shape will host a public information meeting to showcase what the first phase of the redevelopment encompasses.
Shape acquired Brentwood mall in 2010, and has been working on redevelopment and rezoning plans ever since.
"The first phase of development envisions the creation of a new dynamic outdoor commercial centre, public plaza, and residential development, integrated with the Brentwood SkyTrain Station and adjacent bus service," a Brentwood Town Centre online post states. "All parking is proposed to be underground within the first phase, with above ground public spaces being pedestrian oriented and fully accessible."
Shape is asking the public to provide comment on the proposed redevelopment at the open house in the food court at Brentwood mall from 4 to 7 p.m.
For more information or to send comments, email
No more Safeway
Burnaby's four Safeways will be no more. The company was bought out by Sobeys and will join Thrifty Foods and IGA under the same owner.
Safeway was acquired for about $5.8 million last week, including all the grocery stores under the Safeway banner in Western Canada, 10 liquor stores and 12 manufacturing facilities, among others.
"This is a significant and historic event for Sobeys, which has been proudly serving Canadian food shoppers for 106 years," said Paul Sobey, president and CEO of Empire Company Ltd., in a media release.
The Safeway locations will now be under the Sobeys name. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Empire.

Brentwood Town Centre's bus loop on Willingdon Avenue will soon be removed to make way for the proposed redevelopment at the mall.
Shape Properties has worked with the city and TransLink to provide a "more urban, on-street bus exchange approach in the vicinity" of Brentwood mall and the SkyTrain station.
This system will replace the bus loop in order to facilitate advancement of the mall' future development.
"Although the existing bus loop is functional, it does not provide a strong, desirable, multi-modal linkage for pedestrians and cyclists to access local commercial uses or the SkyTrain station," the report states. "The passenger amenities are sparse, and the link to SkyTrain is weak. These issues are also being addressed through the master plan."
The affected bus routes will not change, but all stops and layovers will occur on the streets and as close to the station as possible.
Coun. Colleen Jordan called the changes "amazing," saying, "TransLink and staff did a pretty good job."
But not all of council was as impressed.
Coun. Sav Dhaliwal was not pleased with the terminus of bus #123's route as it stops too far from the station.
He said an alternative route or stop should be considered for Halifax Street.
Council approved the changes at its June 17 meeting. Dhaliwal was the only one to oppose the motion.
For details of the report, visit

Bus route changes coming to Brentwood

TransLink is relocating its routes as it vacates the bus loop in anticipation of the massive redevelopment of Brentwood Town Centre mall site.
On Monday, Burnaby council approved having the bus service moved onto city roads, which is expected by sometime this fall.
The route changes were developed by TransLink in conjunction with city hall and Shape Properties, owner of the mall site, with the intention of better integrating bus stops with Brentwood SkyTrain station and the eventual development project, said a city staff report.
Under the new system for the five routes affected—Nos. 25, 123, 134, 136 and 130—all stops and layovers will take place on the street and as close to Brentwood station as possible.
Route No.25 will turn around using Lougheed Highway, Alpha Avenue and Dawson Street; No. 123 will turn around using a new road on the Brentwood mall site and Lougheed; No. 136 will continue as it does today, approaching from the east and leaving northward as No. 134; in reverse, 136 will make a loop using Lougheed, Rosser Avenue and Halifax Street before departing as 136. There will be no changes to No. 130.
The existing bus stop at the station on Lougheed eastbound will be expanded to allow for the addition of route No. 25 and a new on-street stop will be added on the south side of Halifax, just west of Willingdon Avenue.
The changes will result in most bus passengers able to walk shorter distances to the SkyTrain station by up to 100 metres.
Coun. Colleen Jordan was impressed at what was possible without using Brentwood mall as a turnaround area.
"They're trying to make some of the pick-up and drop-off areas closer to SkyTrain for some of the routes. If that was the task at hand I think staff and TransLink have done a pretty good job."
But Coun. Sav Dhaliwal believes more could have been done.
He noted that the stop for No. 123 remains where it is on Willingdon, too far from the station, and questioned why the new loop for No. 134 has the layover on Halifax, instead of closer to the station where people can wait. "There's no point in having it two blocks away."
Council approved the changes by an 8-1 vote with Dhaliwal opposed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Solo District in NewsLeader

The Solo District development at Willingdon and Lougheed is beginning to receive a lot of press as it gets set to rise and temporarily become the site for the tallest building in Burnaby.  The 70-story towers at Brentwood Mall's redevelopment will eventually take that distinction once they are built over the next few years.

As the story below mentions, the developer of this project will build a City-owned 4000 square foot space and contribute $30 million to the density fund pool dedicated for amenities in the Brentwood area.  The use of the City-owned space has yet to be decided and announced.  The project is situated south of Lougheed, and east of Rosser Ave to the west of Willingdon Ave.

Burnaby NewsLeader article

Burnaby's tallest tower underway

The Brentwood neighbourhood will be home to Burnaby's tallest tower after the second phase of the SOLO District development held its groundbreaking ceremony Saturday.
The project by Appia Developments will stand more than 550 feet tall, second in B.C. only to the Shangri-La in downtown Vancouver. The 55-storey building will have 48 "floors" due to some levels being double height.
Commercial units, including office space, will take up the first 14 floors, while 280 residential units will make up floors 15 to 48. A 5,000-square-foot, indoor-outdoor amenity space for building residents, dubbed "Club 55," will take up the rooftop.
A public preview of the new homes was held last Saturday with sales to start this weekend, on June 22.
Recent reports of a slowing real estate market and concerns about an oversupply of condos don't concern Jim Bosa, president of Appia.
The way he sees it, he doesn't have a whole lot of competition at the moment. While the redevelopment of Brentwood Town Centre mall, kitty-corner across Lougheed Highway and Willingdon Avenue, is in the planning stages, construction has not yet begun. That makes SOLO the only project currently selling at that intersection closest to Brentwood SkyTrain station.
"I think where I am I'm in a pretty good position, [there's] not much that's going to be starting anytime soon, not much competition, good area," Bosa said. "The people that buy from me they really want to stay there."
He said many of the buyers in the existing project are familiar with Brentwood or are from there and like the proximity to transit and services.
Rather than being in a downturn, Bosa believes the current condo market is getting back to what should be normal.
"Everyone got too used to selling out overnight and everyone expected that was the norm," he said with a laugh. "After a few years of doing that they got used to it and then they started to get scared when it wasn't selling out overnight.
"I've been doing this for 20-plus years, for the first 10, 15, that wasn't the case at all. You get a good little chunk [of sales] in the beginning when you launch, and then if you can trudge along and get a good number every month, eight to 10 a month, you were doing good. That was considered a good market," he said.
"Ultimately, by the time you came to completion of the project, if you had maybe a handful of units left, well what was there to complain about?"
Stratus, the first phase of SOLO, has so far sold 230 of its 360 units, Bosa said. Construction is expected to be completed by May 2015. Burnaby's first Whole Foods supermarket is expected to open just before that, also in spring 2015.
Construction on Altus will start in about a month once permits are in place, with completion of the condominiums by the third to fourth quarter of 2016. The retail space will be ready for occupancy by late spring of 2015, and the offices by the fall of 2015.
When all four phases of SOLO District are complete, the 6.5-acre development will house about 3,000 people in more than 1,400 homes.
Through Burnaby city hall's density bonus program, Appia will also be contributing $32 million in community amenities, including a city-owned 4,000-square-foot community space and $30 million in cash to be used for amenities elsewhere in the neighbourhood.
SOLO District is being developed with several green features, including geothermal heat exchange systems, individual gas meters in each condo unit and electric car charging stations.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Brentwood building heights topic of news stories

Two recent news articles mention the new heights being reached by upcoming developments in the Brentwood area.

The first article is from News 1130 and the second article is from the Province.

(News 1130 article)

Sky is the limit for new Burnaby condo tower

New condo will be the tallest ever in Burnaby at 550 feet

Simon Druker
BURNABY (NEWS1130) – A new condo tower now under construction is set to become the highest ever in the City of Burnaby.
Ground was broken Saturday on the 49-floor, 550-foot tower on the southwest corner of Lougheed Highway and Willingdon.
Jim Bosa with Appia Developments, which is behind the project, believes people are moving away from the traditional house and yard as development moves up, not out.
“The idea that you need to look after your yard is becoming less favorable and it’s better to be able to just walk up and go,” says the Appia president.
“You’ve got a lot of people that are realizing that there is a convenience factor they get with towers. There’s a certain convenience factor with having your shops, your markets basically at your footsteps.”
Bosa says they encountered very little opposition to the project and that Burnaby City Council encouraged them to build it as high as possible.
“There was very little of anybody showing up in opposition with anything negative to say as far as views or shadows,” says Bosa.
Burnaby also supported the project.
“Burnaby has been very easy to deal with and more than accommodating. Actually they wanted us to go as high as we could.”
Construction on the tower, which will include commercial space on the ground floor and a 5,000-square-foot recreational clubhouse on the top floor for its residents, is scheduled to wrap up in 2016.

(Province article)

  A massive new development proposed for Metrotown in Burnaby is going to test Lower Mainland demand for office and residential space.
Burnaby councillor Pietro Calendino agrees with estimates that put the value of the Sears redevelopment at around $1 billion, particularly with towers he guesses will likely be at least 30 storeys.
Calendino is keeping an open mind about the big new project because Sears Canada hasn’t come forward with a detailed conceptual plan. But he doesn’t think Metrotown is too crowded.
“Isn’t downtown [Vancouver] pretty crowded?” said Calendino. “This is a town centre. That’s where we want the concentration so we can conserve the single-family neighbourhoods.
“We have to put the density somewhere,” he said.
Density has been targeted for Metrotown because it is on busy artery Kingsway and has transit connectivity with its SkyTrain station and bus loop,
But Andrey Pavlov of Simon Fraser University’s business administration department wonders if there’s a demand for the density.
“There is space, clearly,” he said for more development at Metrotown. “What I worry about a little bit is the demand for those buildings.
“Sales [of real estate] are still way, way below long-term averages,” he said. “With that picture, I’m a little concerned that maybe we have too many condos already.”
Tsur Somerville of the Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C. also agreed that Metrotown was the right place for the proposed development.
As for demand, he thinks it will be three years or more before any actual units become available so market conditions may change.
But he can understand what Sears Canada is doing.
“Their most valuable asset is actually the real estate,” said Somerville. “There’s a lot to be said for extracting the value they have through redevelopment.”
Although Sears Canada did not respond to a request for an interview Thursday, the company’s vice-president of real Stephen Champion said in a letter to council that the project will be “planned and constructed in stages responding to market demand as well as the physical accommodation of structures on site.”
He said Sears is committed to working with Burnaby staff to design “an iconic mixed-use development appropriate for this important gateway location.”
But it’s not as if there’s a shortage of condos or offices in Burnaby or the Lower Mainland.
Also in the proposal stage is a major redevelopment of the Brentwood Town Centre that could include two towers up to 70 storeys — higher than Vancouver’s tallest building, the 62-storey Shangri-La Hotel on Georgia Street.
The Brentwood plan has a total of 11 towers on an 11.5-hectare site at Lougheed Highway.
Another big project being discussed is the redevelopment of Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre, home of the city’s first shopping mall. What’s being proposed is more mixed-use retail and commercial space, along with as many as 13 residential high-rises ranging in height from 18 to 45 storeys.
More density is also planned at Marine Drive and Cambie Street on the Canada Line and on Joyce Street near the Expo Line.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Working 24/7 at Cabinets r us

Regardless of the time, day or weather, these guys are always working.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Kin's Market and Brentwood Cleaners to be moved

Although not yet officially announced, the removal of the mall front from Bank of Montreal (BMO) to IHOP will go further inward than I previously mentioned.  The shops affected are situated within the area between the outer IHOP and inwards up to Kin's Market.  I've heard that the BMO is looking at moving it's branch into the recently vacated space that housed SportMart.  A dentist's office affected by the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment (BMR) might be looking at the empty space next to SportMart which used to house a pet store.

That is a significant amount of mall space that will be removed to accommodate Phase 1 of the BMR which will extend to the corner of Lougheed Hwy and Willingdon Ave.  As exciting as the development is, I  hope that Kin's will remain open somewhere else at the mall as more than half of my produce currently comes from there.