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.

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