Thursday, February 21, 2013

Straight on Solo District

The Georgia Straight features Solo District in its article (below) on the trend towards smaller condos.

In smaller condos, the living is large—and chic

Rising towers part of long-term plan in Burnaby

The has an article explaining how the arrival of multiple high-rises in Burnaby's town centres like Brentwood has been a planned out process that goes back to the 90's.

Towers rise in Burnaby, all according to plan

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Brentwood stores wondering about their future

The following blog posting in Burnaby Beat has covered the issue of current store owners in Brentwood Mall wondering about their future in the mall as Shape Properties moves forward with its massive redevelopment next to Brentwood Station.

Burnaby Beat                                      

Brentwood retailers in the dark about new development

Photo by DennisTsang

A massive new development is slated to replace the current Brentwood Town Centre but retailers in the mall say they have been given no information about what will happen to them.

Shape Properties bought the mall in 2010 and quickly proposed a huge development that will eventually include a new open-area shopping district and up to 11 condo towers.

Burnaby city council gave approval for the Brentwood master plan back in October, but retailers Wednesday were still confused about what was happening.

Owner of clothing store Match, Kevin Wang, said he had no idea when the development was set to start and what would become of his store.

“It is hard to get information. The bosses, owners of this mall, keep changing their minds I think. Now that it is passed, they don’t have to rush I guess,” said Wang.

Several other owners echoed Wang’s confusion. Owner of Gam Shoe Repair, Habibi Jamshidian, whose store has been in Brentwood 36 years, said he “hadn’t been told anything.” Jamshidian said he wasn’t opposed to the development.

“The project is exciting,” said Jamshidian, but he would like to know more specific details from his landlord.

The Shape Properties webpage says the new development is “expected to start unfolding in the spring.”

Shape spokesman Brian Nosko said Thursday representatives had recently been out of town. Regarding informing the retailers about the progress of the development Nosko said,

“They do know. We had tenant meetings in the fall.”

Nosko said it would actually be a year before any ground would be broken for the first phase of the development and that drawings for that phase are currently being prepared.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

City gets cash in lieu of Aviara amenity space

The Brentwood Town Centre Amenity Bonus Fund will receive cash from the developer of the Aviara Project at Halifax and Gilmore.  The Density Bonus Fund is a pool of cash received from developers in exchange for the City allowing greater density for multi-family development projects in the Brentwood Town Centre.  According to the City Of Burnaby, the Aviara Project will add roughly $6.5 million to the existing fund, bringing the total to roughly $13.4 million.

Previous benefits derived from the Density Bonus program include 2 childcare centres, 19 affordable housing units, and approximately 20, 000 square feet of non-profit office space.  20% of the Density Bonus Fund will be allocated towards affordable/special needs housing while the remainder will be used in whole or in part for other amenities in the Brentwood area.  The upcoming Solo District and Brentwood Redevelopment should significantly increase the Bonus Fund or amenity space in the area.

The question arises as to whether or not the public get to have input on the types of amenities to build in the neighbourhood.  I wonder what kinds of ideas residents would have for using the density bonus?  I would imagine that some really good ideas would come out of a public forum.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Brentwood Public Plaza before and...

The site at the NE corner of Lougheed and Willingdon will look markedly different a few years from now.  If everything goes well for Shape Properties at the planning stage, excavation of the site for Phase 1 of the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment should be under way by this time next year.  How it unfolds next to Brentwood Station will be interesting to see.


This sketch (above) is from "Vancity Buzz"

related news articles below

Mall change



The first phase of the Brentwood Town Centre development is one step closer to coming to public hearing.
City of Burnaby staff received approval from council to work on preparing a development plan with Shape Properties for Phase I.
The architects are currently working on the development plan, but there is nothing new to report at this point, according to Darren Kwiatkowski, executive vice-president of Shape Properties, which owns Brentwood Town Centre.
The Brentwood Town Centre master conceptual plan divided the 11.5-hectare site at 4515 and 4567 Lougheed Hwy. into four quadrants for development, with the first phase including two residential towers that could range in height from 45 to 70 storeys at the corner of Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway.
Applying for the rezoning is a two-part process, Kwiatkowski told the NOW last fall. The next step is a site-specific rezoning application for phase one, he said.
This part of the process has very specific requirements, Kwiatkowski said, and it will likely be months before it is up for first reading.
"I expect that the site specific zoning will likely take about six months," he said. "There's a lot of detail required."
The site-specific rezoning application will also go to public hearing after it comes before council.
The four phases of the proposed development include 10 residential towers - with a structure capable of accommodating one more in the future - possibly ranging in height from 20 to 70 storeys, depending on the 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.
For more information on Brentwood Town Centre, go to www.shapeproper wood-town-centre.

Best Buy/Future Shop preparing for Brentwood arrival?

The recent closure of Best Buy and Future Shop stores across Canada may be a sign that smaller is better for major retailers looking to have presence in denser, more urban areas.  For the past 25 years, big box retailers like Best Buy and Future shop have been establishing themselves in the suburbs by taking advantage of lower real estate prices and relying on consumers to drive long distances to shop there.  With the trend heading towards denser neighbourhoods, and less car use coupled with increased online shopping, big box stores (particularly electronics stores) may be attempting the shift to a smaller "boutique" format to gain a foothold in those denser, more compact neighbourhoods.

This begs the question, is Best Buy / Future Shop preparing to enter Brentwood Mall as its redevelopment begins to move forward in North Burnaby?  Currently, the only store specializing in electronics at Brentwood Mall is The Source (formerly Radio Shack).

(News story below)

One Future Shop and five Best Buy big box stores closing in B.C.

Canadian retailing giants Best Buy Canada and Sears Canada announced layoffs Thursday and B.C. locations were among the hardest hit.
Five Best Buy stores in B.C. will close immediately, including the Queensborough store in New Westminster, the south Surrey location and all three stores on Vancouver Island (Nanaimo, Victoria, Langford). The Future Shop in west Kelowna was the only B.C. Future Shop to be closed.
Best Buy, Canada's biggest seller of home electronics, laid off an estimated 900 employees nationally and announced the closure of 15 big-box stores representing about 10 per cent of its square footage in this country.
Sears Canada, trying to staunch years of falling sales and profits, laid off 700 employees, about 360 at its department stores, 300 from distribution centres, and the remainder at head office and support areas.
The layoffs come as Best Buy faces pressure from online electronics retailers such as Amazon and Apple and as it follows in the step of its U.S. parent, with plans to open multiple smaller stores that are less expensive to operate, like the new North Vancouver Future Shop.
Target is also weeks away from opening the first of its 124 Canadian stores in what is shaping up to be a turbulent and competitive year for the country's retail sector.
"The retail landscape continues to change and our success is dependent upon our ability to evolve along with it," Mike Pratt, president of Best Buy Canada, told the Financial Post. "By taking a proactive approach in transforming our operations now, I have no doubt we will be in the best position to continue innovating our store experience for consumers and grow into the next decade."
Best Buy will close a total of eight Future Shop and seven Best Buy locations nationally, reducing the company workforce of 17,000 by a little under five per cent.
Over the next three years, the company will begin to open an unspecified number of smaller Future Shop web stores and Best Buy Mobile locations -- such as the North Vancouver Future Shop, which opened in October.
At 5,000 square feet, that store is less than one-fifth the size of a typical 27,000-square-foot Future Shop. It carries only 1,000 of the retailer's top-selling products, with shoppers able to order another 60,000 products through for delivery to that store, to another Future Shop or for home delivery.
Target's move north is creating a ripple effect at retailers across the country, from Walmart to Canadian Tire, and more strategic changes are ahead as consumers increasingly shop online or seek out more tailored service from small stores, according to retailing consultant Wendy Evans.
"There is going to be a restructuring and a right-sizing in retail," said Evans, president of Toronto-based Evans and Co. Consultants Inc., who has tracked the steady migration of U.S. retailers into Canada over the past three decades. "Electronics and books are on the forefront of that, with specific names and brands that you can compare anywhere and buy online. I think that fashion is next."
Before the rise of online merchandising, with its low overhead and endless array of colour and size options, big-box stores were known as "category killers," with the best available selection and the lowest prices.
"It has been quite a profligate use of space," Evans said. As the country emerged from recession, traditional enclosed shopping malls have been fighting back by remodelling and leasing increasingly large spaces to their tenants. Traditional department store Sears "also has too much space to be competitively productive, and there are other issues there," she said.
Best Buy's move comes almost a year after the company's embattled U.S. parent announced it would close 50 outlets and open 100 smaller mobile stores with a greater emphasis on smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. Sales at stores open for more than a year were flat over the nine weeks ended Jan. 5 in the U.S. -- higher than analysts expected them to be.
But the company said same-store sales fell 6.4 per cent internationally because of declines in Canada and China — two markets called out by the U.S. parent for sales declines in the first three quarters of 2012. Year-end and fourth-quarter results are due out Feb. 28.
At Sears, the layoffs come amid a tough winter for the Canadian department store chain and as the company approaches its fiscal year-end. They are "part of our initiative to right-size the organization which is working in concert with other initiatives to make Sears successful," spokesman Vincent Power said in an email.
Last winter, the retailer laid off 470 employees. Sears, which has seen its annual sales and profits fall since 2006, now has a Canadian workforce of 29,300. Sears has also exited underperforming locations, closing three stores in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa last year and selling the leases back to landlord Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. for $170 million.
With files from Canadian Press and Gillian Shaw, Vancouver Sun

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Friday, February 1, 2013

Crows and cyclists

The Still Creek crows are getting some attention in a Province news article (below).

As the crow flies, the cyclists ride


A nature and arts loving group of cyclists plan to celebrate the daily migration of thousands of crows into Burnaby.
On Saturday afternoon, a bike ride is planned to follow the migrating crows as they make their daily way to an area in the Willingdon Avenue and Still Creek Drive area of Burnaby.
The Crow Roost Twilight Bike Ride is organized by the Still Moon Arts Society.
Cyclists are being asked to meet at the Lakewood Drive Central Valley Greenway location at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Carmen Rosen, the artistic director of Still Moon Arts, said they will ride over to the Renfrew SkyTrain station to pick up other cyclists at 4:15 p.m. and then ride down to the area at Willingdon and Still Creek where the birds stay overnight.
In the past, the society has sponsored night walks through Renfrew Ravine to raise awareness of the stream rehabilitation and return of the chum salmon that is taking place in Still Creek.
Rosen said early February is prime time to see the huge flocks of crows. The numbers decrease by the end of the month once the birds nest.
“It is an amazing phenomenon,” said Rosen of the crows flying down to the area around Willingdon and Still Creek each day.
“The ride takes place just prior to their nesting season so there will be big numbers.
“This is an event for cyclist and bird enthusiasts,” she added. “This is also to raise awareness of the environment. We want to get people thinking of the environment in a creative way and how to take care of it.”
Estimates have the number of crows that fly into the Still Creek area on any given day as more than 20,000.
The activity is part of Reflecting Still Creek, a program from the Still Moon Arts Society that aims to connect people with the creek.
Wayne Goodey, a UBC zoology department lecturer whose background is bird behaviour said the crows congregate in huge numbers for a variety of reasons. Some may be looking for a mate while others are there to find food.
“They could be communicating with each other about feeding areas,” he said. ”Crows live in family groups.
“They do follow each other. It may be just a case of follow the leader.”
For more information on the event Google crow roost bike ride.