Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Brentwood Public Hearing draws plenty of interest

From the extensive coverage by multiple media outlets, it appears that the BMR has created significant interest as many residents of Brentwood Park came out to express their views on the project last night at Burnaby City Hall. The ambitious plan will see the tallest towers in Metro Vancouver built along with a massive retail and entertainment expansion. I was happy to see that residents expressed their concern about traffic through Brentwood Park, especially the always precarious intersection at Beta & Brentlawn where near-accidents are a daily ocurrence. The verdict appears to be a nearly 50-50 split in terms of support for the project. Although concerned about the traffic through Brentwood Park, I am in favour of the scale of the BMR as the City and neighborhood looks to the future of increased human and commercial actvity around transit zones.

Articles covering the Public Hearing below:

Burnaby's Brentwood development could nearly double neighbourhood population
TUESDAY, AUG 28 2012 20:00:00 -04:00
Burnaby council chambers was packed for Tuesday night's public hearing on the master concept plan for the Brentwood Town Centre site, with people gathering outside the doors to hear the proceedings. The proposed development is divided into four phases and would include 10 residential towers possibly ranging in height from 20 to 70 storeys, depending on their location, and two office towers ranging in height from 30 to 40 storeys. The design also includes a redeveloped commercial centre, a 50,000-square-foot food store, and a variety of public outdoor spaces. The plan divides the 11.5-hectare site at 4515 and 4567 Lougheed Hwy. into four quadrants for development, with the first phase including the two residential towers that could range in height from 45 to 70 storeys at the corner of Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway. One by one, concerned residents and those interested in the planning process spoke to Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, city councillors and staff. Mark Tyson, who lives on Fairlawn Drive near the mall, spoke first, saying he did not oppose redeveloping the mall, but he was concerned about the possibility of the 70-storey towers included in the master plan. He was also worried about the increase of traffic in the busy neighbourhood, he said, as "rat-racers" are already a problem along Willingdon Avenue. Donald Copan, who lives on Highlawn Drive, shared some of the same concerns as Tyson, adding that traffic at the intersection of Beta Avenue and Brentlawn Drive is especially unsafe. "If there's an accident or death, it'll be at Brentlawn and Beta," he said. Eric Anderson, who has lived in the neighbourhood since 1953 and referred to himself as "a charter member of Brentwood," said the neighbourhood could not accommodate that many new residents. "A development at this scale is crazy," he said. There were some questions about the scope of the project, such as how many people would be added to the neighbourhood once it is completed. Lou Pelletier, Burnaby's director of planning and building, said the anticipated number of residential units for the Brentwood site is between 2,000 and 4,200, with approximately 2.1 people expected per unit, meaning it could house up to 8,400 people. The current population count for Brentwood is 10,000, he said, while the capacity in the town centre plan for the area is 50,000. Corrigan addressed some of the concerns brought forward, specifically about traffic in the area. While the developer is working to address traffic issues connected directly with the site in the planning stages, the traffic problems in the neighbourhood overall fall under the city's jurisdiction, he reminded those attending the hearing. The city is currently working on a transportation plan to deal with issues such as locals having access to their neighbourhoods, and commuters cutting through those neighbourhoods to get to Vancouver, according to Corrigan. "Whenever anybody asks me what's the biggest issue in Burnaby, I tell them, 'it's traffic,'" he said. Most speakers who opposed the project said they supported redeveloping the site, albeit on a smaller scale. And a near-equal number of people came forward to speak in favour of the project, including David Pereira. Pereira, who completed his master's in urban studies at Simon Fraser University, said he wrote his thesis on the history of Burnaby's town centres. The town centres in Burnaby - particularly Metrotown - have the highest density in the region, he said, and Metrotown also has the highest transit ridership. "This plan is a long-awaited project," Pereira said, adding that the plan to make Brentwood a high-density neighbourhood has been on the books for 46 years. Jeanne Fike, speaking on behalf of Burnaby Family Life, said the community organization also supports the project and hopes to continue to consult with the developer on how it will benefit the community. "We think this is a tremendous opportunity of doing things differently from the past, she said. Darren Kwiatkowski, executive vice-president of Shape Properties, which owns Brentwood Town Centre, was also at the hearing. He addressed some of the concerns brought forward at the hearing in a follow-up phone interview with the NOW on Wednesday. "To put things into perspective, the site is 28 acres," he said. "The actual density being proposed is in line with what city planning policies support for the property." Burnaby has made it clear that it plans to make town centres, particularly those near SkyTrain stations, high-density areas for more than 20 years, he pointed out. The designers went with the tall-building plan to allow more light and space on the site, and avoid a clustered development with lower buildings, Kwiatkowski said. The tallest towers are purposely planned to be as far from the residential homes near the northern edge of the property, and as close to the SkyTrain, as possible. As far as traffic goes, the development design includes plans to manage the roadways on the property to avoid impacting surrounding neighbourhood, he said. "We are extending the urban street network through our site," Kwiatkowski said, mentioning Halifax Street and Alpha Avenue will continue onto the property as private roads. Next, Burnaby city staff will compile a report on the hearing, which will go back to council. Council will then decide whether or not to approve the master concept plan. Following that, each development phase will also go through public hearings before the parcels can be rezoned, and Shape Properties has committed to conducting more consultation with stakeholders and residents as things develop. (Burnaby Now)

Towers in ambitious plan to redevelop Burnaby mall would be tallest buildings in B.C.  
A conceptual plan for a massive redevelopment of Brentwood Town Centre that would include 11 residential towers, including two that could be up to a staggering 70 stories, went into the public hearing stage Tuesday in Burnaby. If built to the limit, the tallest towers would have more stories than anything in the province. Vancouver’s tallest building is the 62-storey Shangri-La, with the proposed Telus residential tower next tallest at 53 storeys. The concept is supported by Burnaby staff and had enough backing on the city’s council to get first reading and advance to the hearing stage. That allows residents to weigh in on the Shape Properties Corp. proposal that would drastically transform the 11.5 hectares that is now Brentwood Mall on Lougheed Highway, along with an adjacent site that was formerly a gas station at 4515 Lougheed. In addition to the residential towers, which would range from 20 to 70 stories, Shape’s concept is for two stand-alone office buildings ranging from 30 to 40 stories. There would also be townhouses ranging from two to four stories, plus general retail, large format anchor retail, restaurant and service commercial. A food store that would be about 4,650 square metres or 50,000 square feet would be located on a High Street for both pedestrians and vehicles that would go through the centre of the site. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan has to wait for the public to have its say on the mega-project, which a staff report said “would be developed under approximately 16 sub-phases over a period of 30 years.” But Corrigan said the concept being proposed is what is envisioned for spots by transit like the nearby Brentwood SkyTrain station. “That’s what SkyTrain development is all about,” said Corrigan. “That’s the whole idea behind having mass transit systems like SkyTrain, to create very high densities around stations in order to make the lines useful. “Burnaby has been particularly good at that,” he said, referring to the Metrotown development. Tsur Somerville of the Sauder School of Business was skeptical the development will end up with all the density that’s proposed in the concept. “It’s easy to see why the concept could be successful at that location and it would include density,” said Somerville, director of the University of B.C.’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate. “Having said that, how much office space you get, at what density, and how high the residential buildings end up going if you don’t cap them, I would be surprised if the office buildings and the residential buildings hit the maximum limits presented in the plan,” he said. If Shape gets through this stage of the process, there will have to be more public hearings and approval for specific development proposals. Shape Properties was formed in 2005, according to its website, and has a portfolio of 11 major properties with approximately 3.1 million square feet on 335 acres. The company was contacted for this story but didn’t respond. If approved, the website suggests the project will begin “unfolding” in the spring of 2013.

Worries over height and traffic with Burnaby tower proposal
Development plan at Brentwood Town Centre could be 70 storeys high Joanne Abshire, August 29, 2012 BURNABY (NEWS1130)
 - People in Burnaby gathered last night to weigh in on plans for a development that includes huge towers at Brentwood Town Centre. Longtime city councillor Nick Volkow says for the most part, reception has been fairly positive. He says most people like the idea of turning the old mall into a new and improved entertainment and shopping district. Brentwood, when you look at it, is one of the oldest subdivisions and earliest malls in Canada, not just Western Canada.  People say it's a little tired... people are looking to see what's going on. I mean, the whole area has been in a real fundamental transition in the last five years," says VolkAow. But he points out some are worried about transportation and the tall towers. If things go as planned for the Shape Properties, a few buildings could reach up to 70 storeys. "The concerns that people have... one obviously is going to be the traffic issue. Secondly, some people raise issues in regards to the potential height of two of the buildings," explains Volkow. "Lougheed and Willingdon intersection, that corridor is no more or no less congested than the King George Highway, or Cambie and Oaks Street in Vancouver or anywhere else, so that's an argument that's not going to sway me too much," he argues. Volkow adds many people are in favour of the complex because it's right beside rapid transit. A lot of people welcome the continuing growth in the neighbourhood, as he says the plan will revitalize one of the oldest shopping areas in Burnaby.  (News 1130)

Coming soon to a suburb near you: highrise development    
Highrise towers are no longer solely a downtown Vancouver phenomenon. Highrise towers are no longer solely a downtown Vancouver phenomenon. Developers are building and proposing highrise buildings along transit corridors in Burnaby and Surrey. In fact, the highest building in B.C. could some day be in Burnaby if an ambitious plan by Shape Properties at Brentwood Town Centre is approved. Burnaby council is considering a conceptual master plan by Shape Properties, owner of Brentwood Town Centre, to redevelop the site with an 11.5-hectare project that includes two residential towers of 45 to 70 storeys over the next five years, with as many as nine more towers ranging from 20 to 55 storeys over the next 20 to 30 years. Two 30-40 storey office towers are also in the plan. Shape Properties hopes to break ground in late 2013. A number of highrise developments are at various stages of development across Metro Vancouver. Century Group is developing 3 Civic Plaza which will house Surrey’s highest skyscraper, a 50-storey condo, office and hotel tower. The Sovereign, a Bosa Properties project in Burnaby’s Metrotown, is expected to be B.C.’s second-tallest building at 500 feet. Appia Development’s Solo District project in Burnaby at Lougheed Highway and Willingdon Avenue has four towers ranging upwards of 38 storeys. Station Square at Metrotown includes plans for five towers ranging from 35 to 57 storeys. Coquitlam has approved a development agreement for Windsor Gate, a Polygon Homes project with two 25-story towers. Concord Pacific is proposing a 31-storey tower in Metrotown. Abbotsford is expecting to see a Quantum Properties 26-storey tower, Mahogany at Mill Lake. Surrey has three town centre highrise projects in development, “all above 30 storeys and that’s great,” said Surrey city councillor Barinder Rasode. Surrey is actively encouraging highrises in place of urban sprawl, she said. “We can’t fight the fact that 1,200 people a month move to Surrey and we are also going to have, in the next 10 years, an increase in the number of seniors by 179 per cent.” “As we’re creating communities that are more walkable and bikeable and while we’re protecting our agricultural and industrial landbase, density is the only option,” Rasode said. Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy, approved in 1996, created a pattern of development that concentrates density in town centres and protects natural areas and both agricultural and industrial land. Area residents may be starting to notice a flurry of highrise development because of a two- to three-year delay between presales and construction, said Darren Kwiatkowski, Shape Properties executive vice-president. “The basic philosophy has been there, whether Burnaby, Central Surrey or Richmond,” Kwiatkowski said. “What you’re seeing now is just market economics and social economic trends.” Young people are increasingly choosing car-free lifestyles, so transit has become a key driver for residential condo sales. “The projects that are selling the best in the Lower Mainland, are on SkyTrain [lines,]” Kwiatkowski said. “What that translates into is more highrise.” Kwiatkowski predicted that office development will soon be driven by tenants seeking similar convenience. “What’s coming is a fundamental shift from low-density business parks to office facilities on transit.” The final height of a tower is determined by a fine balancing act between presale numbers and building costs. “Once you get over 50 to 55 storeys, you’re looking at premiums,” for additional elevator banks, and wind and earthquake considerations, Kwiatkowski said. He does not foresee many of the current Metro Vancouver projects coming in at over 50 stories. “There is a premium to concrete over wood frame construction. Not every Lower Mainland market will support it. the housing price has to get to a certain point where concrete is an alternative. Over the last 15 years, downtown, you could build a highrise, the economics there worked. In Metrotown it worked and in Richmond it worked. So you’re now starting to see the economics work as housing prices rise gradually and it becomes a more accepted form of living.” Lower Mainland residents still trying to live with values left over from the 1950s have an emotional disconnect that comes from a lack of clear government policies encouraging alternative kinds of housing other than single family, said Penny Gurstein, a University of BC professor community and regional planning. “It isn’t necessarily [about] the housing type,” Gurstein said. “It’s the kind of values underlying that.” “There is nothing inherently wrong with highrise especially in a place like Brentwood which is a transportation node and there’s shopping, there’s entertainment, there’s work there. If you want to do density, that’s the best place to be doing it.” © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


  1. Thanks!
    Did you go to the public hearing?

    1. Thank you for visiting the blog! I really wanted to go and even speak on the project but had a trip planned before the public hearing was set. I'll definitely attend future public hearings at each stage of the project. I'm glad that locals expressed concerns about traffic safety in the surrounding neighbourhood.