City of Coquitlam creates a plan to give itself a 'vibrant' downtown area

Mar 5 2019, 7:09 am

The City of Coquitlam wants a bigger piece of the region’s pie in office employment and entertainment and retail attractions.

Last week, staff with the municipal government provided city council with a long-term plan to turn Coquitlam’s established city centre area into one of the region’s commercial hubs. To date, the city has found success with attracting residential tower development, but it does not want its emerging downtown area to be purely residential.

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“With the arrival of SkyTrain to City Centre, Coquitlam’s City Centre has the opportunity to become a transit-oriented, mixed-use community,” reads a city staff report.

“Therefore, as redevelopment occurs, it is important that the existing malls and shopping plazas do not become solely residential enclaves. Commercial and office development is essential for securing long-term economic prosperity since it adds to the nonresidential tax base and provides job opportunities for area residents; it is also a vital component to building a complete downtown.”

Coquitlam city centre

Size of downtown Vancouver vs. Coquitlam city centre. (City of Coquitlam)

An area of 1,789 acres has been identified as Coquitlam’s city centre area, which is larger than the 1,157 acres that is officially designated by the City of Vancouver as downtown Vancouver.

The plan calls on creating two office business districts within the city centre around Coquitlam Central Station and Lincoln Station, with developers required to build standalone office buildings.

“An important component of a successful downtown is establishing a strong employment base; in City Centre, office development is needed to achieve the targeted, significant Job growth,” reads the report.

“City Centre should be able to capture a greater share of the region’s office development; however, this will require the City to collectively work with the business community, developers and landowners to establish a market for office space in City Centre.”

Coquitlam city centre

Coquitlam city centre skyline. (City of Coquitlam)

Much of the core of this downtown area is on the 60-acre Coquitlam Centre shopping mall lot, which is envisioned by its owners for a significant redevelopment.

Restaurants and retail will line the ground level of the streets, with city planners stating their preference for street retail instead of indoor mall and strip mall concepts.

There would also be an entertainment district in this centre, focused along a southern extension of The High Street through Coquitlam Centre shopping mall.

The north end of this area would connect with Lincoln Station, and development immediately adjacent to the station would be “carefully designed as a gateway into the entertainment district,” which could include restaurants, pubs, lounges, nightclubs, movie theatres, and live entertainment venues. This area on the northeast corner of the shopping mall site is also slated to be the first phase of the Coquitlam Centre redevelopment.

Coquitlam Centre redevelopment

Artistic rendering of the Coquitlam recent redevelopment, which is located with the City of Coquitlam’s identified city centre area. (Morguard Investments)

“Large sites including Coquitlam Centre Mall, Sunwood Square, Pinetree Village, and the Translink transit hub site are well situated for redevelopment into comprehensive planned high-density mixed-use residential and commercial villages, with retail and entertainment at-grade,” continues the report.

Additionally, the plan calls for the development of hotels and meeting and convention space capable of accommodating conferences for between 500 and 1,000 people. It cites Surrey’s recently opened Marriott Civic Hotel as a possible model to follow.

Coquitlam city centre

Regional city centres and metropolitan cores in Metro Vancouver. (City of Coquitlam)

Coquitlam’s city centre area is identified by Metro Vancouver Regional District as a ‘Regional City Centre’ — a designation that is shared by Richmond Centre, Metrotown, downtown New Westminster, Langley Centre, Lonsdale, and Maple Ridge Centre.

In 2011, a goal of creating 22,000 jobs within Coquitlam city centre was set — effectively doubling employment from 10,500 people in 2011. But as of 2016, just less than 500 jobs had been created during the first five-year period.

Depending on the level of density that is allowed, the city centre could allow for up to 31,500 jobs at full build-out.

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