Much of Metro Vancouver’s building boom is not happening within the boundaries of the city of Vancouver, but rather in neighbouring Burnaby. Nowhere is this more evident than with the new ‘Southgate City’ neighbourhood in South Burnaby.
Plans are moving forward to redevelop a massive 51-acre warehouse site, framed by 11th and 14th avenues and 15th and 18th streets, that was formerly Safeway’s distribution centre and a dairy plant.
Safeway’s distribution centre at the site shut down in 2011 after it moved to a new facility in Langley, and the site was acquired by local developer Ledingham McAllister shortly after.
The site is near SkyTrain’s Edmonds Station, approximately three blocks away or a 10-minute walking distance.
A pedestrian-oriented, transit-connected neighbourhood master plan approved by the City of Burnaby in 2015 indicates the development will be built over multiple phases over a 15 to 20 year timeline. When fully complete, there will be up to 20 towers between 24 and 46 storeys in height and a variety of mid- and low-rise buildings. It will contain 5.88 million square feet of market residential floor area and 588,365 square feet of non-market housing floor area for a total of 6,400 residential units housing close to 20,000 people.
“Higher densities are proposed more centrally within the proposed neighbourhood, including the discrete siting of residential towers, and where there is an established relationship to either multi-family or park uses,” reads the master plan.
However, unlike the redevelopment plans for Brentwood Town Centre and Lougheed Town Centre, its commercial uses will be limited with just 200,000 square feet allocated for commercial space. No mall space is planned, but there will be street front retail and other minor retail applications for service-oriented commercial uses, such as restaurants.
Southgate has been planned as a neighbourhood with five distinct areas that revolve around a five-acre central park with extensive water features that will be owned by the municipal government. Smaller parks and open urban spaces will also be built in the surrounding areas to “provide contiguous connections throughout the various neighbourhoods to the surrounding community”.
A new local road network with extensive pedestrian and cycling routes will be built within the site.
“The proposed Southgate neighbourhood provides an opportunity to bring greater cohesion to the Edmonds Town Centre, and more broadly, the City,” the master plan continues. “In view of the broad vision and concepts for the proposed Southgate neighbourhood to connect to the two existing nodes of core development within the Edmonds Town Centre, two connections/linkages have been identified as being necessary to achieve this: a north-south connection from the Southgate site to Kingsway and an east-west connection from the site to Griffths Avenue.”
Each of the four phases of the master plan requires a separate rezoning process. The neighbourhood’s first two towers were approved by City Council in March 2016, and construction is expected to begin later this year.