Friday, July 26, 2013

Concord Pacific behind new area project

According to the following Burnaby Now article, Concord Pacific is behind the development Between Beta and Delta Avenues along the south side of Lougheed Hwy that includes the Dragonwood warehouse lands off of Beta Ave.

Brentwood proposal includes park, school

Developer wants to transform industrial area into family neighbourhood

Concord Pacific Holdings has put forward a rezoning application to allow construction of a multi-phased highrise, mid-rise and low-rise residential development with a commercial component.

The site is on 10.5 hectares (26 acres) of land south of Lougheed Highway and east of Beta Avenue.

At its Monday night meeting, Burnaby council authorized staff to work with the developer on the 10 individual parcels and areas of unopened rightof-ways.

The site is currently occupied by the Dragonwood Industrial Estates. Dragonwood consists of heavy industrial buildings, a large outdoor storage yard and a used car dealership.
About seven acres of the site - for the park and school - would be acquired through a mixture of density transfer and cash, to serve the southern portion of the Brentwood area.

"The proposed preliminary development concept for this key site within the Brentwood Town Centre is to transform its existing industrial nature into a new signature multiple-family residential neighbourhood, with a new elementary school, a neighbourhood park, and an improved naturalized riparian corridor for Stickleback Creek, at its heart," the city report states.  "The neighbourhood park space would be for both active and passive recreation, children's play and environmental enhancement, and would add to the primary outdoor and indoor recreation opportunities available at the nearby Burnaby Lake Sports Complex."

Concord Pacific will have to meet certain service requirements such as finishing surrounding streets with bicycle facilities, sidewalks, trees, boulevards, and street and pedestrian lighting.
Coun. Dan Johnston noted that despite the controversy with high-density developments, it's often a good opportunity to get density bonuses, which fund great community amenities.
"Density is not always a bad thing," Johnston added.

A noise study will also be completed due to the site's close proximity to the SkyTrain line and Lougheed Highway.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More on new Brentwood area school

The following Burnaby NewsLeader article provides some background on the Dragonwood lands off Beta Ave and the future elementary school to be built south  of Lougheed Hwy.

New Brentwood school site on horizon

A new Brentwood-area elementary school and neighbourhood park south of Lougheed Highway are a step closer to reality now that the new owners of Dragonwood Industrial Park have applied for a rezoning of the 26-acre (10.5 hectare) site.
Concord Pacific Holdings Ltd. are proposing to develop a multi-phased, highrise, multi-family development with ground-oriented townhouses and low-rise apartments as well as commercial space to serve the immediate community, according to a Burnaby city staff report.
The property is comprised of 4756 and 4828 Lougheed Highway, 4818, 4828 and 4829 Dawson St., 2235, 2285 and 2311 Delta Ave. and 2316 Beta Ave. and includes several smaller properties currently owned by the city that would be sold to the developer and added to the site.
The property has long been designated in the Brentwood Town Centre Development Plan for multi-family redevelopment and 7.68 acres has been sought for the school and park.
In fact, as reported in the NewsLeader, the owners of Dragonwood claimed in a 2009 lawsuit against the City of Burnaby that city inspectors began strictly enforcing long-unenforced bylaws against its tenants and turning down their business licence applications after it turned down city hall's offer to purchase the park and school site two years earlier.
Jonathan Baker, who served as Dragonwood's lawyer for a time on the case, told the  NewsLeader in 2009 he believed residents of a condo development overseeing the site were pressuring the city to get the industrial park off the property.
"It looks as though there was an expectation from [the highrise] tenants they would be overlooking a park and they didn't expect it would be an industrial park," Baker said.
Now it appears an actual neighbourhood park may soon be on the horizon.
The preliminary concept for the site would see the park designed for "both active and passive recreation, children's play and environmental enhancement" with an "improved naturalized riparian corridor for Stickleback Creek," the report said.
The elementary school has been on the Burnaby school district's five-year capital plans in recent years and is needed to serve residents of the growing community of highrises in Brentwood and take pressure off Brentwood Park elementary which is already beyond capacity, district secretary-treasurer Greg Frank told the NewsLeader in May. The district would like the new school to have space initially for 240 students.
Along with completing area streets with sidewalks, boulevards, street lighting, and other usual servicing requirements, the developer will be required to build a new pedestrian and cycling overpass at Beta to connect to the Central Valley Greenway south of the BNSF Rail line as well as an urban trail connection through the site, between Lougheed and Beta, the report said.
As for Dragonwood's ongoing battle with city hall, it won the first round of its court fight, with a 2009 B.C. Supreme Court judgment ordering Burnaby to consider the business licence applications of its tenants "on their merits."
Then earlier this year, the property was sold.
It was perhaps not surprising, considering the value of the land.
According to B.C. Assessment, in 2013 the property at 2316 Beta Ave. was valued at $31.08 million, 4828 Lougheed Hwy. was assessed at $23.22 million, 4756 Lougheed at $5.24 million and 2311 Delta Ave. at $875,000.

Monday, July 22, 2013

New retail space to be built next to old Zellers

According to the minutes of tonight's Burnaby City Council Meeting, in order to accommodate affected businesses during Phase 1 of the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment, a new temporary retail building will be erected at the northwest corner of the mall site.  According to comments by city councillors, the temporary building may be there for as long as ten years as the BMR progresses to Phase 3 over that period.  Once it's usefulness ceases, the building will be replaced by a high-rise tower,

Perhaps we'll see McDonald's and IHOP move into the new building along with Kin's Farm Market.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Site of Brentwood Motors part of massive development

The current site of Brentwood Motors and Enterprise Rent-a-Car at 4756 and 4828 Lougheed Hwy will be the subject of a rezoning application (RZ #13-20) to be discussed tomorrow at the Burnaby City Council meeting.  The subject site will include a proposal for the purchase of surrounding City-owned property that extends eastward to Delta Ave and southward to Dawson Ave.  The developer has yet to be identified.

The development will include a combination of high, mid and low-rise apartment buildings along with a commercial component to serve the needs of immediate area residents.  If the proposal gains approval, the stretch of the south side of Lougheed Hwy between Beta and Delta Avenues will look markedly different once completed over multiple phases.  The area to the south along Dawson Avenue will likely see Dawson Avenue  extend straight through between Beta Ave and Douglas Rd.

New elementary school and park space

This development will also lay the groundwork for a future elementary school south of Dawson Ave to meet the needs of a growing residential population south of Lougheed Hwy.  I expect that the school will be built on the site of the large red warehouses known as the Dragonwood Lands near the foot of Beta south of Dawson Ave.  The site of these warehouses is part of the land mentioned in the project writeup for this rezoning reference.

Pedestrian/Cyclist overpass on Beta

One of the requirements of the City of Burnaby is that a pedestrian and cyclist overpass be built over the railroad tracks to connect to Still Creek Ave.  Such an overpass will definitely benefit locals that need to take a quick walk to the Costco rather than having to drive around along Dawson to Willingdon  to get there.  A quick connection to the Central Valley Greenway will also be nice.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Brentwood Redevelopment part of broad trend

The scale of the upcoming Brentwood Mall Redevelopment may be overwhelming for some, but it's inception is part of a greater trend that began decades ago when subsidized automobile use had become so rampant that multi-decades of auto-centric development saw many people living driving distances away from nearly everywhere that they needed to go to on a regular basis.   The flaw in that auto-centric view of the world has begun to show it's downside as our increasingly busy lives are being crammed into the finite hours of day and night coupled with soaring fuel costs for drivers.  The extensive advertising that created our car-centric culture now seems to be at odds with reality (but that doesn't seem to stop automakers from continuing to make stupid commercials showing people doing stupid things as if those things were normal and legal).

We are constantly bombarded with such commercials that tell us cars are fun to own and fun to do stupid things with.  What they'll never tell us is what really happens when the automakers are successful with their brainwash:


What's really amazing is the fact that some people are so overwhelmed by densification yet don't bat an eye when more lanes are added to our highways or more bridges are built with more roads to accommodate more cars with our tax dollars.  And here we are over a year away from a referendum to determine how to fund public transit in BC.  Where were the referendums when all of our roads, bridges and highways were exponentially expanded with our tax dollars so that the auto corporations could take advantage of the tax-payer-funded market expansion that was created for them? 

The Brentwood Mall Redevelopment is based on principles that will counter previous auto-centric trends.  Will real estate be manipulated by developers with catch phrases such as "density", "sustainable living", "green living" to make people buy into the concept that small and dense is a good thing?  Of course they will.  How do you think we got to the unsustainable suburban, car-centric lifestyle that we've come to accept as being normal after decades of spread-out car-centred development. Many (if not all) of us that were born here were born into an auto-centric, suburban society that we have always viewed as being natural or normal without question at least until we were exposed to an alternative idea.  It is what it is. 

The following Globe and Mail article talks about the trend of having people live close to most of the amenities that they need.  What an overwhelming concept that is!

The death and rebirth of the mall. You don’t drive there, you live there

Honeydale Mall sits at the back of an oceanic parking lot, about as far from the street as it is from current urban-design thinking. A so-called “dead mall,” most of this shopping centre in Etobicoke, on Toronto’s west side, is practically empty. The giant space that Walmart once occupied has been vacant for a decade, as are the majority of the smaller retail spaces inside. Only a dentist’s office, nail salon and electronics store are still in business.

Customers have moved on. So has time. Opened in 1973, Honeydale, like so many other shopping centres, was designed to cater to a car culture. But the mall’s owners hope to modernize the site and revive its economic fortunes. Azuria Group has applied to have the 16-acre site rezoned and plans to add shops closer to the street, as well as residential and green space, creating a mixed-use community centred on a new and improved retail.

Many other malls across Canada and the United States have similar plans, or have recently undergone such a transformation, especially shopping centres with plenty of land and sagging economic fortunes. They’ve attracted better retail thanks to the addition of residential and, often green space.

For anyone who grew up in suburbia, the mall has almost always been a far-off place surrounded by a giant parking lot that you drove to, bought what you needed, and then drove back home. But with urban planners now making higher-density, walkable neighbourhoods a priority, and people looking for more convenient – not to mention environmentally friendly – alternatives to the car culture, shopping centres in Canada and the United States are undergoing a fundamental shift, being reborn as the anchors of communities, places you don’t drive to, but live above.

“It’s really about the fact that cities are moving from a car-dominated thinking to a multimobile way of thinking,” says Brent Toderian, president of the Council for Canadian Urbanism.

The trend is growing quickly in the U.S., says Ellen Dunham-Jones, who teaches architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is the author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.Green Street Advisors, which specializes in real estate analysis, has forecast that 10 per cent of the enclosed shopping malls in the U.S. will fail by 2022. Often, this trend, referred to as the “urbanization of malls,” sees parking lots scrapped for residential towers at so-called dead malls, defined as economically failing shopping centres with sales less than $150 per square foot.

In Canada, many malls have had to seek out non-traditional tenants to fill space, Dunham-Jones points out. City Plaza, in London, Ont., is home to a public library. Hamilton City Centre is home to government offices.
Making malls the centre of communities has demographics on its side, Toderian says.
“Both aging boomers and the millennials support more compact, walkable living, transit, walkable shopping,” he says.
Cities, too, are often looking to get more out of a space than just a sprawling piece of retail. Calgary, for instance, is preparing an area redevelopment plan for the Stadium Shopping Centre lands, a strip mall built in the 1960s, that intends to evolve into a local centre made up of a mix of residences, office and retail, all designed around walkability.
At more successful malls, however, parking can still be king. One parking spot at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto supports 15 shoppers a day, on average, equalling approximately 45,000 visits a year. A 400-unit condo building that holds 800 residents who shop three times a month at a mall, which is average, equals just 30,000 visits, according to Michael Kitt, executive vice-president of Oxford Properties Canada, the company that manages Yorkdale.
The better that public transit systems become, the easier it is to urbanize malls, he adds.
Several mall urbanization projects under way in British Columbia show how this might be a new workable model for urban living, where people can eat, do errands and go shopping all in one localized spot.
The owners of Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby have proposed a plan to include 11 high-rise residential towers, two office towers and a public plaza on the site. The redevelopment of the Station Square shopping centre, also in Burnaby, will include five residential towers ranging from 35 to 57 storeys. The Oakridge Centre in Vancouver is the biggest Canadian example of the trend, and perhaps the most interesting given that it is a very successful shopping centre.
“The idea is to create a complete community on the site,” says Matt Shilito, a city planner.
The redevelopment calls for doubling the size of the mall, to almost 1.4-million square feet of retail space, from 600,000 square feet. The plan adds approximately 300,000 square feet of office space to the site and introduces about 2.7 million square feet of residential space, mostly in the form of mid- and high-rise apartments. There are also plans to build a civic centre, library, daycare and community centre.
“What we’re doing here is more than simply putting towers in a parking lot or on the edge of the mall. We’re actually integrating these towers into the fabric of the mall itself,” says Graeme Silvera, vice-president of western region retail development for Ivanhoe Cambridge, which owns the mall.
There also will be 11 acres of green space on top of the mall, three storeys above street level, that will boast a half-acre jogging track, reflecting pool, community gardens and a wedding pavilion. Such redevelopment is really only possible thanks to the success of the Canada Line, a rapid transit line that opened in 2009, Silvera says.
People still drive to the mall, of course, but many arrive on transit. Eventually, people will arrive by elevator.
To anyone who thinks of the term “the mall” pejoratively, the idea of living and playing on top of one, or getting married on top of one for that matter, is probably hard to swallow. And there is perhaps something unsettling in structuring our lives so that we are primarily consumers.
But Toderian cautions against such thinking. Creating higher density, mixed-use neighbourhoods that are easily walkable is in everyone’s best interests, especially when you look at the toll on health and the environment that the old model of driving to the mall has taken.
“This should not be about snobbery between urbanism and suburbanism,” he says. “What this is about is the true cost of things.”

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Solo brings Skyline with Phase 2

Phase 2 of the Solo District project will see a new street emerge on the map of the area.  The first residential address on the new street will be 4485 Skyline Drive.  Skyline Drive will be a one-block stretch running east-west between Willingdon and Rosser Avenues.

Solo District foundation taking shape

Monday, July 8, 2013

Prep for Phase 1 has begun

This last Saturday, I noticed some activity at the site of the upcoming Brentwood Mall Redevelopment. The site having been a gas station and auto repair shop in its previous life, it has been sitting idle until now to allow any gases in the soil to dissipate over the years.  The soil is now being removed to clear the site of any possible environmental contaminants before excavation begins for Phase 1 of the BMR.