Construction underway on Burnaby's tallest tower

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Intracorp president Don Forsgren unveil a sign to mark the construction of MetroPlace, which is well underway across from the Metrotown SkyTrain station. - Wanda Chow/NewsLeader
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Intracorp president Don Forsgren unveil a sign to mark the construction of MetroPlace, which is well underway across from the Metrotown SkyTrain station.
— image credit: Wanda Chow/NewsLeader

Construction is well underway at MetroPlace, Burnaby's tallest tower, which celebrated Thursday with a sign unveiling at the site in front of the Metrotown SkyTrain station.

The 46-storey highrise at Beresford Street and Telford Avenue will be Intracorp's sixth tower in the Metrotown area.

The company is particularly excited about being involved in transforming Beresford, said Intracorp president Don Forsgren.

"The creation of the Beresford 'great street,' it's going to be something that's very vibrant with animated street-front retail, lots of high-quality public art. It's going to create a public art walk, so that's something that we're really excited to be part of."

Forsgren noted the project embraces the concept of transit-oriented development, which reduces car usage and promotes sustainability.

"It really takes leadership, and it takes vision to create a great community and that is something that the City of Burnaby has hands down," he said.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan quipped, "Given their compliments to the City of Burnaby, I really feel bad now for how much we charge them in amenity bonuses."

Indeed, in exchange for being allowed to build additional density, Intracorp is constructing  16,000 square feet of community amenity space in the project at no cost to the city. It will remain city-owned and be leased at below-market rents to South Burnaby Neighbourhood House, giving it four times the space of its current cramped quarters on Imperial Street, as well as the YMCA community child care resource and referral service, the B.C. chapter of the National Congress of Black Women and the B.C. Centre for Ability.

"They were able to break ground in this area because of the attitude they brought in the way they cooperated with the city and making sure that this development reflected our values as well as the kind of growth and progress in our city that all of us support," said Corrigan.

Jake McEwan, Intracorp's senior development manager, said the "great street" will become a "celebration space, it's going to be a place where the neighbourhood can come" with its retail, amenity space and public art.

"I can't think of a place in the Lower Mainland that's going to transform and add as much to the community as this will," McEwan said.

It will take two cranes and three years to build with more than 300 workers. Excavation of the site started in October and construction crews have almost completed the slab on grade. It is scheduled for completion in 2014.

MetroPlace, which has already presold all its 342 units, will be followed by Intracorp's seventh highrise in the area, a 38-storey tower dubbed "Silver," located next door at Beresford and Silver Avenue, and another project adjacent to that on a site next to Maywood Park.

Corrigan said in an interview that MetroPlace is significant for a number of firsts.

It's the first to take advantage of city hall's new "s" category of density bonusing, which allows for additional density in certain locations in exchange for more community amenities for the city.

"They were kind of our experimental corporation as we worked this out," he said of Intracorp. "They did a very good job of setting the standard that we're going to utilize in other developments."

It's also the first major development in the Maywood neighbourhood, one which not only provides office space for social service groups but a cash contribution towards the city's social housing fund.

"One of our biggest worries is the loss of rental housing in the Maywood area and how in future we're going to be able to replace it."

MetroPlace is also the first project in what will eventually be a high street in Metrotown that connects Bonsor Recreation Complex to Central Park.

"It's going to create a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented area which is something we're missing in Metrotown."

Twitter: @WandaChow

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