To provide some perspective, with a total floor area of six million sq. ft., the proposed mixed-use redevelopment of Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre shopping mall with 24 mid-rise towers would be equivalent to the size of 80% of the floor area Amazon is seeking for HQ2.
With its staggering scope, Lansdowne District, the name of the redevelopment, will be one of the largest projects to be built in the region and certainly within the municipality.
And now, Vanprop Investment Inc., the owner of the mall property, has released new and updated preliminary conceptual designs of the 50-acre redevelopment – framed by No. 3 Road to the west, Alderbridge Way to the north, Kwantlen Street to the east, and Lansdowne Road to the south – in the emerging Richmond City Centre area.
The redevelopment will have retail, entertainment, office space, thousands of units of mixed housing, a community amenity building, and new public spaces including a major park and civic plaza.
“Here, then, lies a historic opportunity to redevelop a shopping mall into a vibrant urban centre in Richmond’s commercial core – a comprehensive, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly village, fully serviced with shops, services, amenities and some of the best transit options in Metro Vancouver, as well as an ecologically balanced destination for recreation, relaxation and celebration for the whole city,” says Vanprop, adding the project seeks to make slight amendments to the City’s 2008 City Centre Area Plan and Official Community Plan.
But the project, of course, aligns with the comprehensive strategy of focusing growth around Canada Line stations.
At the project’s current stage, the owner and developer is seeking the City of Richmond’s approval for the master land use plan of the redevelopment.
If it is approved by Richmond City Council this year, the project will move to the formal rezoning and development phase, which will allow the first phase of the project to commence construction possibly by late-2019 or early-2020.
The first phase will take over ground-level parking lot sites on the easternmost portions of the property along Kwantlen Street.
The existing 1977-built indoor mall, formerly a horse racing track, will remain fully operational until 2025, although Vanprop notes the closure date is not finalized. The mall’s shutdown will be phased, and retail will gradually relocate to the new pedestrian-oriented high street built on the western third of the property next to No. 3 Road.
The existing mall has over 600,000 sq. ft. of retail space – slightly larger than Vancouver’s current Oakridge Centre. Vanprop says the ambitious scope of the project “could only be possible on a grand canvas.”
The office towers and retail and commercial spaces are on the western side of the redevelopment. While the centre third will be mixed-use as well, it will be predominantly residential.
Residential uses will dominate on the the easternmost third parcel along Kwantlen Street.
The tallest buildings, and the greatest densities, are located near No. 3 Road and will reach no higher than 45 metres.
The proposal calls for a mix of housing – everything from street-level townhouses and courtyard ‘skyhomes’ to terraced flats and tower conodominiums. Some units will be set aside for market rental.
A new network of public streets will extend across the site, with a mix of vehicle roads, multi-modal paths, pedestrian-only paths, and bike paths.
Hazelbridge Way will become the district’s new high street for retail, and overall the entire district’s design will be prioritized for pedestrians.
Larger retailers, located behind the storefronts of smaller retailers, will turn the retail district into a regional destination. This includes room for a large grocery store.
A high sustainability standard is envisioned, including a site-wide district energy system to reduce the cost and impact of energy generation.
Flood and storm water management designs will involve raised streets, rainwater runoff systems, and enhanced drainage.
There will also be plenty of landscaping and greenery across the site beyond the major park spaces. According to the project’s description, “tree-lined streets and lushly landscaped pedestrian mews laced throughout the development will combine to support Richmond’s Ecological Network Management Strategy, serving the goal of sustainability, in Lansdowne Village and in all of the ‘island city by nature.”
A large civic plaza outside Lansdowne Station will provide the district with a grand entry on the site. This plaza, located next to retail, restaurants, and office towers, would host large civic events and activities.
To support the civic designation of this highly centralized location, a significant community amenity building with about 53,000 sq. ft. of floor area will also be located at the civic plaza.
Approximately 10% of the overall size of the property will be dedicated for public spaces, such as a large public park designed with plaza space and a large open grass area – ideal for large civic events and festivals.
It will provide Richmond with a new accessible and highly centralized location for such special events, which currently take place at Minoru Park.
This new five-acre public park, owned by the City, includes a strip that stretches along the length of Lansdowne Road from No.3 Road to Kwantlen Road. At its core will be the park, bound by public roads.
“Complementing the Plaza, a Centre Park & Event Space will become Richmond’s principal festival space – the perfect location for concerts and summer celebrations – even as it serves, daily, as a favourite neighbourhood venue for recreation and relaxation, whether you are practicing Tai Chi, playing with friends, or just lounging in one of the cafés along the western edge,” reads the project’s description.
A small neighbourhood park is also planned for the southeast corner of the site, across from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Rapid growth in Richmond City Centre
Lansdowne District is just one of approximately 15 multi-building redevelopments proposed, planned, or being built along the No. 3 Road corridor in North Richmond between Bridgeport Station and Brighouse-Richmond Station.
On the northern end of the corridor is the planned future $4-billion waterfront redevelopment of the Richmond Night Market into an international shopping centre with hotels, bars, nightclubs, theatres, office space, and 450,000 sq. ft. of convention and exhibition space. This project alone calls for four million sq. ft. of floor area.
Next to the Richmond Night Market site is the International Trade Centre (ITC), an office and retail complex that will include a 110-room Opus Hotel.
Across from the ITC is a proposed international student education campus with classroom space for up to 1,000 students, student accommodations with as many as 900 beds, and a boutique hotel with about 100 beds.
Further south in the area around Sea Island Way and Capstan Way along the No. 3 Road corridor, developers such as Concord Pacific, Pinnacle International, Yuanheng, and Polygon are behind redevelopments that will create dozens of buildings to house up to 16,000 people. These projects are also funding the $28-million cost of building the Canada Line’s new station at Capstan Way.
And just across the street from Lansdowne Centre, at the southwest corner of No. 3 Road and Alderbridge Way, is Atmosphere – a seven-building redevelopment with 600 homes, 65,000 sq. ft. of tech hub space, 80,000 sq. ft. of office space, and 60,000 sq. ft. of ground-floor retail.
During a media event last week, Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie credited the Canada Line for being the catalyst for the developments that are providing Richmond with a well-defined urban downtown core.
“You just have to look at Richmond to see the effect on urban development and redevelopment that a very effective transportation system will have,” said Brodie. “We have refocused and redeveloped our downtown core, and it is all based around the Canada Line.”
According to the municipal government’s plan for the City Centre, 2,500 people per year are forecast to move into the area, and at full build-out the entire downtown core could be home to as many as 120,000 residents – up from about 40,000 in 2006. This area could also see up to 80,000 jobs.
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