Under-utilized parking spaces on the rooftop of the city-owned parkades in Gastown will be turned into one-of-a-kind daycare facilities with a total capacity for 74 young children.
Next week, Vancouver city council is expected to approve a $17-million construction contract to have Heatherbrae Builders Co. Ltd. build two childcare facilities on the rooftop levels of the connected parkades at 150 Water Street (north side) and 151 West Cordova Street (south side).
Single-storey structures will be built on the eastern ends of the rooftops, with 10,000 sq. ft. of indoor space and 15,000 sq. ft. of secure outdoor play space. Each facility will have a capacity for 37 children.
Both facilities on different rooftops will be connected by a footbridge over an opening between the parkade structures.
To access the facilities, two dedicated entrances with elevators and a staircase will be created, with one entrance located on Water Street and the other on Cordova Street. Vehicle parking for staff and parental pick-up and drop-off areas will be accessed from Water Street.
A rooftop solar panel system will help the project achieve LEED Gold green building and Passive House certifications.
Water Street Childcare
West Cordova Childcare
The daycare property will be city-owned and maintained, but its operations will be carried out by a non-profit childcare operator. Architectural designs for the rooftop structures were created by Acton Ostry Architects.
To fund its construction, about $4.7 million will be coming from community amenity contributions provided by developers of two office towers in downtown, with the remainder from the capital budget.
“The catalyst for this creative and unique project was the increased shortage of viable sites for child cares in the downtown area, and the opportunity to capitalize on existing city-owned land and infrastructure to provide new downtown facilities with well-lit open air exterior play spaces,” reads a city staff report.
According to the city, it previously conducted an evaluation of eight city-owned parkade sites, but only two sites in Gastown were identified as suitable for rooftop daycares.
The parkade, constructed by the city at a cost of $28 million and designed by Henriquez Partners Architects, opened in 2004 and initially included Storyeum within its basement – a $22-million live-action show attraction that told the story of BC’s history. But the attraction closed just over two years later due to its financial losses.
After years of vacancy, Storyeum’s former 70,000-sq-ft space was later converted into a satellite campus for the Vancouver Film School. The parkade also has retail space on its ground level.
In 2013, the parkade was named “one of the coolest in the world” – ranked in the top 10 – by Britain’s FX Magazine.