New $102-million student housing tower with 475 beds proposed at Oakridge

Oct 28 2019, 5:55 pm

A proposal to construct a new student housing complex near Oakridge Centre shopping mall has advanced to the City of Vancouver’s application stage.

After announcing it had acquired property near the intersection of West 42nd Avenue and Cambie Street in January of this year, CIBT Education Group Inc. recently submitted a rezoning application to turn the mid-block site at 441-475 West 42nd Avenue — currently occupied by three single-family homes — into a new 203-ft-tall, 18-storey secured rental housing building for students who want dedicated housing in an off-campus environment.

GEC Oakridge 441-475 West 42nd Avenue

Site of GEC Oakridge at 441-475 West 42nd Avenue, Vancouver. (Urban Solutions Architecture / CIBT Education Group Inc.)

GEC Oakridge 441-475 West 42nd Avenue

Site of GEC Oakridge at 441-475 West 42nd Avenue, Vancouver. (Urban Solutions Architecture / CIBT Education Group Inc.)

The project, named Global Education City Oakridge (GEC Oakridge), will contain 124 rental homes, with the unit mix established as nine one-bedroom units, 62 two-bedroom units, seven three-bedroom units, and 46 three-bedroom units. A total of 29 units will be set aside as below-market rental rate homes, in accordance to the city’s policy of designating 20% of the units for below-market use.

Based on a project update in September 2019, the company plans to provide accommodations for up to 475 long-stay students by utilizing smart design furniture featuring hideaway and space efficiency designs.

Students will be provided with a 2,637-sq-ft rooftop indoor amenity space, with access to north and south facing outdoor amenity spaces. Another smaller indoor amenity space attached to an outdoor children’s play space will be located on the fifth level.

GEC Oakridge 441-475 West 42nd Avenue

Artistic rendering of GEC Oakridge at 441-475 West 42nd Avenue, Vancouver. (Urban Solutions Architecture / CIBT Education Group Inc.)

Given the building’s unique off-campus student housing use and its close proximity to SkyTrain’s Oakridge-41st Avenue Station, there will be just a single underground level with 39 vehicle parking stalls and 291 bike parking spaces, plus four car share stalls on the ground level.

“The projecting concrete frames will be differentiated by colour to accentuate its form,” reads the design rationale by Urban Solutions Architecture.

“The main character of the Tower will be defined by the use of window walls with integrated spandrels and placed at the corners of the Tower, and solid cladding materials placed vertically in the centre.”

GEC Oakridge 441-475 West 42nd Avenue

Artistic rendering of GEC Oakridge at 441-475 West 42nd Avenue, Vancouver. (Urban Solutions Architecture / CIBT Education Group Inc.)

Altogether, the project will have 134,128 sq. ft. of floor area on its 18,800-sq-ft site, giving it a floor space ratio density of a floor area that is 6.67 times the size of the lot. The proposal aligns with the city’s Oakridge Municipal Town Centre Plan and the Cambie Corridor Plan, with significant densification outlined for the area in both plans.

CIBT Education Group had initially planned to situate this project next to Langara College and Langara-41st Avenue Station, but it ultimately decided on the location in the Oakridge precinct, given the appeal of the Oakridge Centre shopping mall redevelopment and other advantages.

If the proposal receives various municipal approvals, construction is expected to take about 3.5 years at a cost of about $102 million.

“We are very pleased that one of our subsidiary limited partnerships has successfully raised another substantial investment,” Toby Chu, chairman, president, and CEO of CIBT, in a statement, adding that this will be a “flagship building.”

GEC Oakridge 441-475 West 42nd Avenue

Artistic rendering of GEC Oakridge at 441-475 West 42nd Avenue, Vancouver. (Urban Solutions Architecture / CIBT Education Group Inc.)

GEC Oakridge 441-475 West 42nd Avenue Vancouver

Artistic rendering of GEC Oakridge at 441-475 West 42nd Avenue, Vancouver. (Urban Solutions Architecture / CIBT Education Group Inc.)

The student housing project is being built to meet the growing number of international students arriving in Canada to study, with post-secondary institutions such as UBC and SFU unable to keep up with on-campus student housing demand. Based on data from the Canadian Bureau for International Education, there has been a 119% growth in the number of international.

A recent student housing report found Vancouver to be short of 14,000 student housing beds. UBC’s wait list for student housing this past September, for instance, was 6,000 students — an increase of 50% form the previous year’s wait list.

CIBT Education Group has a number of domestic and international student housing complexes across the region, along with educational institution brands.

Another major upcoming project it has planned is the 626-ft-tall GEC Education Mega Centre in downtown Surrey, which will be one of the region’s tallest buildings. This Surrey project has a variety of student housing options alongside academic and institutional office space.

GEC Oakridge 441-475 West 42nd Avenue

Artistic rendering of GEC Oakridge at 441-475 West 42nd Avenue, Vancouver. (Urban Solutions Architecture / CIBT Education Group Inc.)