North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto was beaming during an event on Wednesday at The Shipyards while speaking about when he first envisioned a redevelopment of the Lonsdale waterfront.
“We have been at this job for a good time now,” said Mussatto. “I first ran for office in 1993 and I recently looked at one of my old election leaflets… it said rejuvenate the waterfront.”
Nearly a quarter century later, his dream is now a reality that is steadily rising up from the ground.
Construction on the $35-million redevelopment of Lot 5 of the Shipyards, just east of Lonsdale Quay, began earlier this year.
The completion and opening was originally scheduled for December 2018, but with the pace of construction it has now been pushed to early-2019.
There will be 20,000 sq. ft. of outdoor public space, including a 12,000-sq-ft covered event space – in a structure that replicates the old machine shop – that doubles as an ice rink during the winter months. Designed by local architectural firm DIALOG, the structure is 300-ft long and provides a six-storey high ceiling at its peak.
It will be the largest outdoor ice rink in the region, and according to the Mayor it will be better than Robson Square in downtown Vancouver.
“It’s going to be the premier gathering space in the Lower Mainland,” said Mussatto. “It’ll have an outdoor ice rink in the winter that people can go on and ice skate, and it’ll be the envy of every city. It’ll be bigger than Robson Square, but it won’t be underground like Robson Square.”
A portion of the roof is retractable, opening up to the covered area to the new, adjacent 8,000-sq-ft water spray park and public plaza.
“It will be open, you can feel the weather, and there will be incredible views of the waterfront and downtown,” said Gary Mathieson, President of Quay Property Management, the local developer that was selected by the municipal government to build the project on City-owned land.
“It will be a very active and animated space. The goal is to have something happening in the plaza almost every day of the year.”
The project will also have a significant retail and restaurant offering, with approximately 63,000 sq. ft. of space dedicated for these usages.
The Executive Hotel & Resorts Group will be taking up the third and fourth floors of the northeast building. There will be a 71-room, four-star boutique hotel within this space.
The hotel will not have its own meeting space, but there will be a 5,400-sq-ft conference and event space with a 4,000-sq-ft outdoor patio on an upper level of another portion of The Shipyards.
Mathieson says it will compliment not only the new event spaces being constructed at the site but also the event spaces of the nearby Polygon Gallery, which opened earlier this month, and the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier. It is all part of the strategy to “make Lower Lonsdale a destination go-to space for conferences and large groups and weddings”.
As well, near the water’s edge, the first two floors of a new building will be largely occupied by JOEY Restaurant, which is said to be committed to making this their flagship location. With a seating capacity for 419 people, the restaurant will be massive, and there will be two large patios on the first and second levels, each 1,200 sq. ft. with stunning views of the harbour.
Also on the ground level will be Nook’s third location. The Italian restaurant, best known for its simple concept, will take up 3,000 sq. ft. of space.
Other tenants for the development have yet to be announced.
To support the activity generated by the development, there will be one level of public underground parking with over 140 stalls and secured bike parking.
Quay Property Management is aiming for a LEED performance equivalent standard for the commercial component of the project. It also owns and operates Lonsdale Quay, which is set to undergo significant renovations.