Top 20 urban development stories of 2019 in Metro Vancouver

Dec 31 2019, 7:15 pm

Despite the ongoing housing slowdown, 2019 was certainly not a slow year for urban development stories in Metro Vancouver.

Here is a ranking of the region’s most important urban development stories, as told by Daily Hive Urbanized in 2019:

20. Redevelopment at Burrard Bridge’s north end

A portion of the Anchor Point complex at the northeast corner of the intersection of Burrard Street and Pacific Street — the northern end of the Burrard Street Bridge — could be redeveloped into a mixed-use complex with a 450-ft-tall tower with hotel and residential uses. A formal application is expected sometime in 2020.

1380 Burrard Street Vancouver

Preliminary conceptual artistic rendering of 1380 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Arno Matis Architecture / Coromandel Properties)

19. ARC Vancouver tower reaches completion with 200-ft-high pool

Over the summer, Concord Pacific’s 30-storey ARC Vancouver tower at the northern end of the Cambie Street Bridge reached completion. This gateway building into downtown Vancouver is a landmark, with its arching structure within the upper levels. It includes a glass-bottom pool on the 20th floor allowing swimmers to look 200 ft down onto the plaza below.

ARC Vancouver 998 Expo Boulevard Concord Pacific

ARC Vancouver at 998 Expo Boulevard, Vancouver. (Concord Pacific)

18. Royal Bank redevelopment

A development application was submitted to redevelop the base of the Royal Centre tower at the northwest corner of the intersection of West Georgia Street and Burrard Street. The project will create 57,000 sq. ft. of floor area, including the new offices of RBC, and new retail and restaurant space. However, this design concept will see some revisions after it was rejected by the city’s Urban Design Panel.

Royal Centre 1025-1055 West Georgia Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the expanded and upgraded Royal Centre at 1025-1055 West Georgia Street, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership / PCI Development / Royal Centre Inc.)

17. 17-storey wood tower with LGBTQ community centre

An application was submitted to redevelop the city-owned property at the northeast corner of the intersection of Davie Street and Burrard Street. The proposal is for a 17-storey, mixed-use tower with the new and expanded home of QMUNITY and 139 units of social housing for people affected by HIV/AIDS.

With a height of 172 ft, this hybrid mass timber structure will be one of the tallest buildings of its kind in the world.

1190 Burrard Street Vancouver qmunity

Artistic rendering of 1190 Burrard Street in Vancouver with QMUNITY. (ZGF Architects / New Commons Development)

16. New 10,000-capacity amphitheatre for the PNE

The City of Vancouver and the PNE are seeking a private partner to help design, build, finance, and operate a major new outdoor concert and festival venue at Hastings Park. The venue will feature a roof covering, a capacity for up to 10,000 people, and supporting amenities and facilities.

PNE Amphitheatre

Artistic rendering of the potential “best scenario” concept for a new PNE Amphitheatre. (PNE)

15. Microsoft opening another major office in downtown Vancouver

A new seven-storey office building at 155 Water Street in Gastown that incorporates heritage facade components of the site’s previous structures has been under construction for about two years. As it turns out, all of the office space spanning 75,000 sq. ft. has been leased by Microsoft. A completion is slated for sometime in 2020.

155 Water Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 155 Water Street, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership / Low Tide Properties)

14. New redevelopment concept for Central City mall

Under-utilized sites, particularly ground-level parking, at Central City shopping mall in Surrey could be redeveloped with a mix of retail, office, and residential uses. The latest concepts show up to 10 towers, plus podiums.

Surrey Central City

Model of the preliminary concept for the redevelopment of Central City mall in Surrey. (Blackwood Partners / City of Surrey)

13. City of Coquitlam downtown plan

The City of Coquitlam revealed a comprehensive plan to provide itself with a downtown centred around the easternmost three SkyTrain stations of the Millennium Line. It includes significant residential density, as well as office and entertainment districts sprouting out around Coquitlam Central Station and Lincoln Station.

Much of this plan is on the footprint of Coquitlam Centre shopping mall, which is slated for redevelopment.

Coquitlam Centre redevelopment

Artistic rendering of the Coquitlam Centre redevelopment. (Morguard Investments)

12. Abbotsford WeTown

Abbotsford city council approved measures that allow city staff to continue working with a local developer on their proposal to build a 92-acre redevelopment dubbed WeTown, complete with homes for 29,000 people and 18,000 jobs in tech and post-secondary institutions.

Abbotsford WeTown

Artistic rendering depicting the concept for ‘WeTown’ in Abbotsford. (Avoid Obvious Architects)

11. Construction begins on Vancouver’s new tallest office tower

In 2019, construction officially began on the redevelopment of 1133 Melville Street into The Stack — a 530-ft-tall, 36-storey office tower with 540,000-sq-ft of AAA-class office space. It will become the tallest office building in Vancouver when complete in 2022. Tenants include Ernst & Young, and law firms Blakes and DLA Piper.

The Stack 1133 Melville Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of The Stack at 1133 Melville Street, Vancouver. (James Cheng Architects / Oxford Properties)

10. Canada’s largest film studio to be built in Metro Vancouver

Martini Film Studios announced their plans to build a new purpose-built, world-class film and television production studio in Langley. With 600,000 sq. ft. of production space on 25 acres, it will be the largest studio in Canada and one of North America’s biggest.

Martini Film Studios

Exterior of a soundstage at Martini Film Studios’ existing facilities in Langley. (Martini Film Studios)

9. 40-storey wood tower proposed for Vancouver

A wood tower, the tallest in the world, with between 30 and 40 storeys is envisioned for a site at 1745 West 8th Avenue. The proposal entails about 200 homes, including both market and non-market housing, as well as office and retail space. A formal application is expected after the completion of the municipal government’s Broadway Corridor Plan later in 2020.

Canada Earth Tower 1745 West 8th Avenue Vancouver

Artistic rendering of Canada Earth Tower at 1745 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver. (Perkins + Will / Delta Land Development)

8. Vancouver House takes its form in the skyline

Vancouver House topped off over the summer, becoming a landmark gateway tower into downtown at the northern end of the Granville Street Bridge. The design, created by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, is based on a triangle that rises from the ground and gradually transitions into a rectangle as it ascends to the top.

This year, University Canada West announced it will be the tenant of 90,000 sq. ft. of office space within two buildings that are part of Vancouver House. There will be enough academic space for 3,400 students.

vancouver house

Construction nearing completion on Vancouver House. November 20, 2019. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

7. World-class resort with surf park proposed for Squamish

A formal application has been submitted to develop a 116-acre gravel pit just south of Britannia Mine Museum along the Sea to Sky Highway into a new resort village, with a 269,000-sq-ft, state-of-the-art surf park designed by Wavegarden.

The artificial surf park’s mechanism will be able to pump out up to 1,000 waves per hour. Additionally, the project will create over 1,000 homes within a combination of low-rise condominiums, row houses, and townhouses.

South Britannia surf park Squamish

Artistic rendering of the South Britannia surf park resort community near Squamish. (South Britannia)

6. New St. Paul’s Hospital at False Creek Flats approved

Vancouver city council approved the rezoning for the new St. Paul’s Hospital on an 18.4-acre lot just north of SkyTrain’s Main Street-Science World Station in the False Creek Flats.

The 1.68-million-sq-ft hospital will have 548 patient beds — a net gain of 115 beds from the existing Burrard Street hospital location — and new state-of-the-art spaces for provincial-level services. Additionally, the campus includes other buildings that will host 600,000 sq. f.t of medical and research space.

Upon full completion, the hospital campus will employ over 10,000 people.

New St. Paul's Hospital

Artistic rendering of the new St. Paul’s Hospital and health campus at the False Creek Flats. (IBI Group Architects / Providence Healthcare)

5. Long-term redevelopment planned for Metropolis at Metrotown

The owner of Metropolis at Metrotown revealed their intention in 2019 to redevelop their sprawling shopping mall property in multiple project phases over an 80-year timeline.

While there will still be an indoor mall component, much of the existing mall will eventually be demolished to make way for a new street grid that supports new towers. Along with up to 15,000 homes, there will also be ample new retail and office space, and an events centre. Further details on the proposal will be made public in 2020.

Metropolis at Metrotown

Full redevelopment concept of Metropolis at Metrotown after all four phases. (Ivanhoe Cambridge)

4. New lululemon HQ in the False Creek Flats

This year, lululemon submitted a formal application to build a new office building up to 13 storeys at 1980 Foley Street along the Great Northern Way corridor in the False Creek Flats. With up to 580,000 sq. ft. of space, the complex can accommodate up to 4,000 office workers, allowing the company to not only amalgamate its existing headquarter offices scattered across Vancouver but also expand its operations.

1980 Foley Street vancouver lululemon headquarters

Artistic rendering of the new lululemon headquarters office at 1980 Foley Street, Vancouver. (Morphosis Architects / Francl Architecture / Brook Pooni & Associates / lululemon)

3. Metro Vancouver’s tallest tower proposed for Lougheed

Pinnacle International Development is proposing to build a mixed-use redevelopment next to SkyTrain’s Lougheed Town Centre Station. The trio of towers includes Metro Vancouver’s new tallest building — an 82-storey tower with a likely height of at least 800 ft.

The redevelopment incorporates a mix of uses, entailing retail, office, hotel, and significant residential.

9898 Gatineau Place Buranby

Artistic rendering of 9850 Austin Road and 9858-9898 Gatineau Place next to SkyTrain’s Lougheed Town Centre Station in Burnaby. (Pinnacle International Development)

2. The continued fights over rental housing

While 2018 centred on the downturn of the housing market, especially for upscale properties, and the impacts of interventionist policies, 2019 on the other hand was largely about the state of the rental housing market with its low vacancies and high rents.

There have been clashes at city halls across the region between opponents and supporters of rental housing projects, with these fights most pronounced in the city of Vancouver.

1. First Nation announces and approves Senakw within the span of about a month

On November 5, the Squamish First Nation made public their proposal to redevelop their 11.7-acre Kitsilano reserve at the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge into 11 towers up to 56 storeys. Senakw will create 6,000 homes, with the vast majority of these homes dedicated as market rental units — accounting for as much as a quarter of the City of Vancouver’s 10-year strategy of stimulating 20,000 new secured market rental units.

Then on December 10, members of the First Nation overwhelmingly approved the project in a vote. The redevelopment is a 50-50 partnership with local developer Westbank, with each of the two partners seeing as much as $10 billion in revenue over the lifespan of the century-long project.

Progress on Senakw has moved swiftly, as it does not need to follow the City of Vancouver’s review process and design policies. Construction could begin in early 2021 and reach a full completion within five years.

senakw squamish first nation

Artistic rendering of the Senakw development in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood. (Revery Architecture / Westbank / Squamish First Nation)

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