New stadium and neighbourhood for 3,500 residents planned for UBC

Jun 4 2019, 9:57 pm

A significant dense, mixed-use neighbourhood slated for a 22-acre parcel, located in the south campus area of the University of British Columbia, focuses on creating new housing options for UBC faculty, staff, and students.

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Following several rounds of public consultation and refinement, just ahead of a UBC board of governors meeting scheduled for this week, UBC president and vice-chancellor Santa Ono has released a new report by university planners that outlines the latest concept for the new Stadium Neighbourhood redevelopment.

The redevelopment, located at the southwest corner of the campus, next to UBC Botanical Garden, includes the current site of UBC Thunderbird Stadium.

Existing condition:

UBC Stadium Neighbourhood

Existing condition of the UBC Stadium Neighbourhood area. (UBC)

UBC Stadium Neighbourhood

Existing condition of the UBC Stadium Neighbourhood area. (UBC)

Proposed future condition:

UBC Stadium Neighbourhood

June 2019 concept plan for UBC Stadium Neighbourhood. (UBC)

UBC Stadium Neighbourhood

June 2019 artistic rendering of the UBC Stadium Neighbourhood concept. (UBC)

By demolishing the existing stadium and constructing a new stadium, the area’s footprint can be used more efficiently for residential use.

The latest concept for consideration calls for 1.55 million sq. ft. of residential development within mid-rise buildings between six to eight storeys, towers between 20 and 32 storeys, and tower podiums between six and 10 storeys, with the tallest buildings closest to East Mall and the new stadium.

UBC Stadium Neighbourhood

June 2019 building height concept for UBC Stadium Neighbourhood. (UBC)

The residential component of this project is particularly important to UBC’s academic and operational strategy of retaining top faculty and staff, amidst the region’s growing housing affordability and supply issues.

UBC will set aside 67% of the new homes — over 1,000 housing units — for faculty, staff, and students, including ownership options and market rental restricted to those who attend or work at UBC.

The remaining 33% will be general purpose market housing, which will help fund the new replacement stadium, area amenities and facilities, parks and public realm, and rental housing. These market residential units will ensure all components of the new neighbourhood are self-funding to UBC.

When combined, all residential spaces will be able to accommodate a population close to 3,500 people.

“The concept will enable a variety of unit types and sizes that meet the needs of a range of household types. This includes ground-oriented townhomes suitable for families with children, integrated into podiums of higher density sites,” reads the report.

UBC Stadium Neighbourhood

June 2019 community amenities concept plan for UBC Stadium Neighbourhood. (UBC)

To support the growing residential population, which is compounded by the adjacent UBC Wesbrook Village neighbourhood, the plan would create 120,000 sq. ft. of non-residential uses, including up to 37,000 sq. ft. of commercial space for a mid-sized grocery store (complementing the nearby Save-On-Foods), restaurants, and retail.

Other non-residential uses entail three childcare facilities, 60,000 sq. ft. of academic and flex space, and 20,000 sq. ft. of stadium shared amenity space.

University staff assert a residential floor area of 1.55 million sq. ft. is a compromise between community members seeking less density and student groups requesting for more housing, with the former requesting the existing land use plan of 1.28 million sq. ft. be retained while the latter advocating for 1.8 million sq. ft.

While the upper range option would provide more housing, UBC staff stated only the middle option of 1.55 million sq. ft. “achieves high level of liveability and a responsible balance between wise use of UBC’s valuable lands and avoidance of negative impacts on the adjoining communities.”

The overall density, determined by floor space ratio (the ratio of the total floor area to the size of the site), in this middle option is lower than the densities of major redevelopments elsewhere in Vancouver, including Little Mountain near Queen Elizabeth Park, old RCMP headquarters at the Heather Lands, and Pearson Dogwood.

UBC Stadium Neighbourhood

June 2019 open space network plan for UBC Stadium Neighbourhood. (UBC)

As for the new stadium, it will use a smaller, more intimate footprint on the northwest corner of the intersection of West 16th Avenue and East Mall. The sports venue will have a permanent capacity for 5,000 seats, expandable to up to 10,000 spectators with the use of temporary grandstands.

In contrast, the existing 1967-built outdoor stadium has about 3,400 fixed seats and a maximum capacity of 12,000 spectators when surrounding grass embankments are used.

An early preliminary concept envisions incorporating residential space above the stadium’s concourse structure.

UBC Stadium Neighbourhood

June 2019 concept plan for the new replacement UBC Thunderbird Stadium within the UBC Stadium Neighbourhood. (UBC)

These new neighbourhood development plans require the final approvals of the university’s board of governors and the provincial government. The plan will be finalized by the end of 2019.

UBC is also advocating for a SkyTrain extension west of Arbutus Street that provides two on-campus stations — an academic area station near the intersection University Boulevard and East Mall, and a second station serving south campus in the area near the intersection of West 16th Avenue and East Mall. The second station would serve the south campus area’s future residential density.

A recent preliminary study suggested a SkyTrain guideway reaching south campus could be built along East Mall.

UBC previously announced it is committed to providing a substantial contribution towards TransLink’s costs of constructing the SkyTrain extension.

UBC Stadium Neighbourhood

June 2019 transportation concept plan for UBC Stadium Neighbourhood. (UBC)

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