Massive redevelopment proposed to replace Amazon warehouse in New Westminster

Mar 4 2020, 1:49 pm

Proponents of a major mixed-use, transit-oriented development immediately west of SkyTrain’s Braid Station in New Westminster have returned to the municipal government with a significantly larger proposal that includes a significant additional infusion of rental housing.

Last week, New Westminster city council advanced the public consultation process for the revised master plan in support of the rezoning application for Sapperton Green at 97 Braid Street — on a 38-acre industrial site currently occupied by a 650,000-sq-ft Amazon fulfillment centre, and former warehouse buildings that now contain Extreme Air Park and Futbol 5 Indoor Soccer.

The southernmost parcel of the property is a satellite parking lot for Royal Columbian Hospital staff, and to the north the site is framed by the Central Valley Greenway and the Brunette River. There is also direct access to the Trans Canada Highway via the Brunette Avenue interchange.

Site of Sapperton Green at 97 Braid Street, New Westminster. The property is largely occupied by an Amazon fulfillment centre. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership / QuadReal Properties)

Planning for the redevelopment began in 2011, when it was managed by commercial developer Bentall Kennedy on behalf of the property’s owner, the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCIMC).

But QuadReal Properties took over management of the project in 2017, when it took over Bentall Kennedy’s BCIMC portfolio and submitted the first iteration of the application. The architectural firm for the project is Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership.

The new revision increases the project’s market residential floor area from 3.4 million sq. ft. to 4.2 million sq. ft. — an increase of 800,000 sq. ft. About 1.2 million sq. ft. of this market residential floor area will be set aside by secured market rental housing.

This increased density will be accommodated by additional heights for the residential towers and an additional 26-storey residential building.

February 2020 proposed phasing plan of Sapperton Green at 97 Braid Street, New Westminster. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership / QuadReal Properties)

There will also be 255,000 sq. ft. of affordable rental housing, between 750,000 sq. ft. and 1.5 million sq. ft. of office space, and between 100,000 and 150,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

Changes to the proposal are consistent with the city’s new Inclusionary Housing Policy, which focuses on catalyzing non-market rental homes.

The office component of the project is significant for New Westminster, given that its scale would increase the city’s office supply by between 37.5% and 75%, depending on the option chosen.

The project’s residential uses are largely located on the northwest half of the site, while retail and office space are oriented on the southeast half, closest to the SkyTrain station and bus exchange. The tallest buildings are generally located on the northern half and core of the property, as well as next to the transit hub.

Retail and restaurant uses will line the street along the northern foot of Rosseau Street on the property, and the “Transit Way” leading to the bus exchange.

A 35,000-sq-ft community centre with a childcare facility is located next to a 2.4-acre central public park.

February 2020 proposed site plan of Sapperton Green at 97 Braid Street, New Westminster. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership / QuadReal Properties)

A pair of plazas are planned, and the Central Greenway will be rerouted through a new greenway and open space going through the core of the site.

The entire project calls for eight acres of green and open spaces, parks, and plazas, including dedicating 3.5 acres for riparian area improvements, particularly along the property’s northern edge with the river.

With city council’s latest decision, public consultation will be held from Spring to Fall 2020, with an aim to finalize the master plan by the end of this year.

If the master plan is approved, the entire redevelopment will be built in three phases, with each phase comprised of 85,000 sq. ft. of affordable rental housing. Construction on the affordable housing component of the first phase could begin in 2021, providing 110 units within a six-storey building.

The first phase will develop the southernmost parcel of the site. Amazon’s 2012-opened facility on the site will not be affected until construction of the second phase begins. Two other Amazon fulfillment centres serving Metro Vancouver are located in Delta.

QuadReal Properties is also behind the redevelopments of the old Canada Post building and Oakridge Centre in Vancouver.

February 2020 artistic rendering of Sapperton Green at 97 Braid Street, New Westminster. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership / QuadReal Properties)