dr martens black 1460 A tale of two mall sites as Burnaby redevelops
The redevelopments of Brentwood and Lougheed malls have many similarities they have the same owner, both involve adding towers to large properties now dominated by large surface parking lots, and both are anchored by SkyTrain stations.
But that’s where the similarities end.
Brentwood’s master plan calls for up to 11 towers ranging in height up to 70 storeys while Lougheed’s proposed concept would see 18 towers up to 60 storeys in height, said Darren Kwiatkowski, executive vice president of Shape Properties Corp., the owner of the two shopping centres.
“Brentwood people see it more as an extension of Vancouver. Lougheed is more a gateway to Burnaby, it’s a connecting piece between Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Moody,” said Kwiatkowski. “It’s really a stand alone urban heart as far as a dot on a map.”
Unlike at Brentwood where towers are springing up elsewhere nearby, in the City of Burnaby’s Lougheed town centre quadrant most of the density will be concentrated at the mall site, he noted.
From an aerial view, the Lougheed site is bounded by a lot of green trails and green space to the north, south and west. Then there’s a “hard edge at North Road,” focused on pavement and the SkyTrain guideway.
As a result, the concept plan designers, James KM Cheng Architects Inc., have made a conscious decision to extend the green components to North Road and connect old and proposed new greenways with each other, he said.
“You want to build a great place. It’s in our interest is this wants to feel really good to live, shop or work there,” Kwiatkowski said. “Part of that is a significant green element because you want that breathing room and you want it to feel like an urban oasis.”
The draft concept plan for Lougheed mall includes public open spaces including a 1.6 acre civic park and plaza, a weather protected transit plaza by the SkyTrain station, a 1.7 acre “naturalized creekside park” and a pair of terraced pocket parks.
Of the core area of the Lougheed quadrant, mostly made up of the mall site, 30 per cent will be public open spaces, according to a city staff report. That includes “public realm features such as tree lined boulevards.”
The Brentwood approach of creating a walkable community with a seamless connection to the SkyTrain station has been well received and will be used as a model and enhanced at Lougheed, Kwiatkowski said.
“It’s like an outdoor living room to [residents] , especially when you’re condominium living, that’s like the third space, this urban living room, was very appealing.”
The first tower under construction at Brentwood will have 300 rental units, with more planned on that property in future, he said. Lougheed will also include rental “as part of a mix we think makes a complete community.”
Shape Properties is privately owned, Kwiatkowski explained, but the developments are joint ventures with pension funds the Hospitals Ontario Pension Plan at Brentwood and at Lougheed, Greystone Managed Investments Inc., which manages various pension funds.
As such, the investors take a longer term view and see rental housing as “part of their ideal diversified portfolio,” he said. “They would accept lower returns and profits on rental where a private, solely private developer might not.”
Lougheed will be easier to redevelop in a number of ways, he noted.
One of the challenges at Brentwood with keeping the mall open was due to the focus of initial development being at the corner by the SkyTrain station.
“So we couldn’t get away from this phase that interrupts the natural path between SkyTrain and the mall. You couldn’t avoid it so it’s better to just get it done as quickly as we can and get those links back.”
Lougheed, meanwhile, is not only larger and therefore easier to work around the existing shopping centre, the adjacent SkyTrain station has two stationhouses compared to Brentwood’s one, which necessitated the relocation of its bus loop, he noted.
And as for traffic concerns from people living near Brentwood mall, he said that was largely a concern that an existing problem of shortcutting vehicles would get worse with the redevelopment.
Lougheed doesn’t have that inherent condition thanks to it being bounded by three thoroughfares Cameron Street, Austin and North roads. The single family neighbourhood on the north side of Cameron also doesn’t link up to North Road so there’s no way to rat run there, he said.
One of the main challenges of Lougheed is the slope on North Road and integrating it into the plan so that it feels natural and is accessible, he said.
The density proposed in the draft concept plan would translate to about 12.2 million square feet of residential floor space and up to 14.9 million square feet of retail, commercial, office and entertainment space to support the needs of residents, the city staff report said. At this time, Shape Properties is considering about 2.2 million square feet of commercial space for its properties.
“Development around the Transit Plaza is expected to have a significant office component,” it said.
It is expected higher densities and taller towers will be located more centrally within the overall core area and closer to the SkyTrain station and bus exchange. Shorter buildings would be sited around the edges, especially along Bartlett Court and Cameron Street as a transition to existing neighbourhoods.
The report noted that density will not be distributed evenly throughout the core area. “Up to 20 per cent of residential density will be permitted to be transferred between development parcels.”
In addition to the public open spaces, community benefit bonus funds, in exchange for the city allowing additional density on some sites, could help fund the future replacement of both the Cameron Recreation Centre, including a pool, and Cameron library branch.
As for timing of the Lougheed project, Burnaby city hall is still accepting feedback to the current draft concept plan, which incorporates public input from an open house held last year. Once the developer responds to the latest feedback, it would then go to a public hearing.