A new development application has just been submitted by Westbank and QuadReal Property Group for another major parcel of the redevelopment of Oakridge Centre.
This latest development application seeks to redevelop the remaining northeast quadrant of the 28-acre site into a new four-storey structure that forms a portion of the new indoor mall, food hall, restaurant space, and common and circulation areas, as well as a portion of the new nine-acre rooftop public park.
Oakridge Centre is currently a major construction site, with major excavation occurring at the northwestern and southeastern parcels of the property.
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In an interview with Daily Hive Urbanized in September, Chrystal Burns, the senior vice-president of Retail West for QuadReal Property, said a decision had been made to shutter nearly all of the existing mall early this fall — years ahead of schedule — to allow for a larger portion of the new retail, dining, and public park to open by 2024, instead of the previous completion timeline of 2026.
“When the opportunity came up to allow us to bring some of those things forward in the schedule by two years, that really drove the decision,” she said.
“It was a community-based decision on how we can get to construction faster and bring on those elements that would otherwise have to wait longer.”
As a result of that decision, the development application submitted this week shows revised designs for the rooftop public park, with an organic terraced topography that now “envelops and conceals the interior spaces of the mall” below and “slopes up over the volumes in a unified expression of hills and ridges.”
“The architectural expression reflects an organic and topographical approach that shapes the design of both the site and the buildings. The landscaped roof of the Food Hall is cut and lifted to reveal the interior spaces to the Commons and at the same time create a sloping topography for the Community Gardens to the east,” reads the design rationale by Henriquez Partners Architects.
“Here the sloping landscape is gently terraced similar to a rice paddy, addressing the pragmatics of providing level plots for agriculture and maintenance while poetically expressing the symbiotic integration of nature and architecture. A Tea House at the summit is a meditative multi-use space cradled within this topography and will serve as an extension of the Restaurant below.”
The upper levels of the food hall open up to the public park, such as the use of large garage doors and the placement of outdoor patios that maximize the connections between diners and the adjacent public spaces.
Large skylights pour natural light into the indoor mall and food hall, and mark the primary circulation and common areas.
New staircases have been added to enhance the connectivity between the food hall’s upper restaurant level and the park space on the food hall’s rooftop.
Major public park components that will be completed in this parcel include the Meadow Gardens (orchards and wildflower meadows), Community Gardens (urban farming), Community Garden Rooms (indoor support spaces for community-based gardening), and the Tea House and traditional Japanese-style garden that surrounds it.
The parcel also contains a segment of the indoor mall corridor that serves as an east-west pedestrian route across the complex. The internal path through the shopping centre is designated as a right-of-way that will be publicly accessible during SkyTrain’s operating hours.
This parcel is part of the first phase of two phases of the entire Oakridge Centre redevelopment.
Last month, the development team submitted a revised rezoning application requesting the city to allow major additional density, height, and width changes to mainly the towers of the parcels within the second phase. Most buildings and towers will see height increases of up to 100 ft.
If the rezoning changes are approved by city council, the total residential floor area will grow from 2.76 million sq. ft. to 3.03 million sq. ft., allowing for an increase in the number of condominium homes from 1,968 units to 2,330 units, an increase in the number of secured market rental homes from 290 units to 609 units, and a new additional affordable rental housing component of 94 units. These residential changes amount to a net increase of 775 new homes — from the previous plan of 2,548 units to 3,323 units.
The office space component has also increased from 433,176 sq. ft. to 810,436 sq. ft., amounting to a 377,260 sq. ft. increase on job space. This is partially accomplished by a two-storey increase to the existing northeast office tower that will be renovated, a two-storey increase to several other buildings, and a reallocation of the planned new retail space.