One of the largest public realm improvement projects identified in the City of Vancouver’s 2013 West End Community Plan is on its way to being enacted.
The municipal government recently issued a request for proposals for a design team to redesign a two city-block stretch of Alberni Street — between Burrard Street and Bute Street — in downtown Vancouver that has grown to be known as the city’s luxury retail strip.
Possible improvements to the Alberni Retail District could include new public spaces, such as spaces that support local businesses and street activity and allow for community events and programming.
Specific design elements may entail intersection improvements, mid-block pedestrian crossings, wider sidewalks, street furniture, public art, and functional and decorative specialty lighting.
Supportive electrical infrastructure is also being considered to support events and festivals that could be held in the area by temporarily closing the street.
The first phase of public consultation on this project is expected to occur in late June, and this will lead to the design team’s creation of three streetscape concept options by late July. A draft design concept will be selected in late August, which will lead to the creation of a final design concept in the fall.
The project is amongst the group of West End public realm improvements that will be funded by community amenity contributions generated from developments in the West End area. The 2016 completion of the permanent design of Jim Deva Plaza in the Davie Village was the first major public space delivered under the West End Community Plan, and this was followed in 2017 by the new public plaza on Bute Street, south of Robson to the laneway.
The West End Community Plan highlighted the importance of a reimagined public realm to transform Alberni Street into a vibrant destination for events and reinforce its place as a unique retail district. Over the last 15 years, this span of Alberni Street has evolved into a luxury retail hub from the opening of a number of high-end retail businesses.