Metropolis at Metrotown mall redevelopment envisions 15,000 new homes

Nov 25 2019, 4:52 pm

The owner of Metropolis at Metrotown is seeking public feedback on the guiding principles, as well as some of the early preliminary design concepts, on the redevelopment of the sprawling 47-acre shopping mall property into a new downtown core for Burnaby.

This follows city council’s approval last month of the formal planning process that will create a redevelopment masterplan, which will guide the multi-phased project’s rezoning and development applications for decades to come.

Graeme Silvera, the vice president of development for retail at Ivanhoe Cambridge, told Daily Hive ahead of today’s open house that the public will be able to see how they have responded to the municipal government’s 2017 Metrotown Downtown Plan (MDP) encompassing an area that stretches beyond on the mall property.

The overall MDP in the area is intact, but there are some proposed changes to how the area will be laid out.

“I think the public is going to be pleased with what we’ve come up with,” said Silvera. “It is a forward-thinking vision for the site that is going to push the boundaries on a lot of things, which is what we need to do today to get some action like climate change and mobility.

Some of the key project goals are to create a “totally unique 24-hour downtown” and “an exciting place to live and visit,” as well as a “sustainable downtown” with an “urban centre that rivals Vancouver,” in that “Metrotown is a centre” and “Vancouver is an urban edge.”

Metropolis at Metrotown

Four distinct precincts from the redevelopment of Metropolis at Metrotown. (Ivanhoe Cambridge)

Metropolis at Metrotown

Four phases of the full redevelopment of Metropolis at Metrotown. For an enlarged version, click on the image. (Ivanhoe Cambridge)

Four redevelopment phases, with each phase its own precinct, are envisioned. Depending on existing tenant leases, the phasing of each precinct will extend from 2021 to 2086.

The first phase, not including Concord Pacific’s Sears Metrotown redevelopment on the northeast corner of the mall property, will redevelop much of the parking lots fronting Kingsway.

This will be followed by other phases that redevelop the southeast corner (Walmart/T&T Supermarket wing), the western sections of the mall (remaining Kingsway parking frontage, and wings with Superstore, Chapters, Sport Chek, and Chapters), and then the eastern sections (Hudson’s Bay and existing food court wings).

Extensive new and additional retail space is planned for the lower levels of the buildings, adding to 1.7 million sq. ft. of new job-supporting office, civic, and education space.

Metropolis at Metrotown

New linkages from the redevelopment of Metropolis at Metrotown. (Ivanhoe Cambridge)

Housing on the scale of Concord Pacific Place at North False Creek is also envisioned, with about 30% of the 15,000 units dedicated as rentals. Residential spaces will be well-supported by a wide range of amenities.

New circulation with pedestrian-oriented public streets will cross through the entire site. A large core city block will retain and enhance a portion of the existing indoor mall. Like CF Pacific Centre in downtown Vancouver, roads and loading docks for trucks will be placed underground to enable a safer pedestrian environment.

Two acres of parks and open spaces and three acres of plazas are proposed, including a large civic plaza next to SkyTrain’s Metrotown Station.

Metropolis at Metrotown

New parks and open spaces from the redevelopment of Metropolis at Metrotown. (Ivanhoe Cambridge)

The footprint of the existing bus loop — a portion of mall retail that includes the Sport Chek footprint — is identified as the site for a potential 250,000-sq-ft live events centre, given its adjacency to SkyTrain.

The existing, multi-level Metrotower office plaza is proposed to be used for parking and amenity space for this new venue. Both the venue and the plaza space are modelled after New York City’s Shed, Melbourne’s Federation Square, and London’s Barbican Concert Hall and Royal Festival Hall.

Metropolis at Metrotown

Proposed live events centre on the site of the existing Metrotown bus loop. (Ivanhoe Cambridge)

Extensive sustainability measures are proposed, including a 40% tree canopy coverage (trees on streets and rooftops), green building design, and the potential for a low-carbon district energy and wastewater treatment facility.

Feedback from this early consultation phase will be used to refine the draft redevelopment masterplan for city council’s consideration in Spring 2020, when further details and artistic renderings will be released.

Metropolis at Metrotown

New street grid from the redevelopment of Metropolis at Metrotown. (Ivanhoe Cambridge)

Initially constructed in the late 1980s as separate shopping centre properties, Metropolis is Ivanhoe Cambridge’s “crown jewel” of retail holdings. It is one of Canada’s largest and top-performing shopping malls.

There is over 1.7 million sq. ft. of floor area, with about 450 stores and brands, including a dozen anchor stores, and over 8,000 vehicle parking stalls. It is estimated nearly 80,000 people visit the mall to work, shop, and dine on average each day.

Other major retail properties owned by the Montreal-based real estate company include Calgary’s The CORE and CrossIron Mills, Edmonton’s Southgate Centre, Montreal Eaton Centre, and Tsawwassen Mills. In 2017, it ended its longtime ownership of Oakridge Centre.